Kobach says Arizona-style immigration bill more likely to pass in Kansas after Supreme Court ruling

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Tuesday said chances have increased that the state will pass an Arizona-like crackdown on hiring illegal immigrants now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the law.

“The Supreme Court rejected some of the arguments that we heard in the Kansas legislative committees,” said Kobach, who helped write the 2007 law approved in Arizona that was upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law penalizes businesses that hire illegal immigrants and requires employers to use the federal E-Verify database system to check the immigration status of their workers.

The court ruled 5-3 in favor of the law. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave the states.”

Attempts to pass an E-Verify bill in Kansas have failed, with much opposition coming from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which has argued the proposal put an undue burden on business. Civil rights groups have argued that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration.

But Kobach, a Republican who has been a national figure in writing anti-illegal immigration laws, said he believed the law would relieve businesses of liability because the federal E-Verify system would be the basis for determining whether a worker was an illegal immigrant. He said the court’s approval means that states can be involved in enforcing immigration laws.

He said he expected the issue to come up again in the 2012 legislative session.

Kobach said he believed the employer sanctions law is a much more sweeping law than SB 1070, which he also helped write for Arizona and which allows police to question a person’s legal status. That law is being challenged in court.