On MLK Day, Romney Steps Up his Attacks on Immigrants

Romney Makes South Carolina Campaign Stop with Kris Kobach, Anti-immigrant Champion

Mitt Romney is set to reinforce his strict anti-immigration stance today in South Carolina with an appearance with recent endorser Kris Kobach. Kobach is known for his work on anti-immigration laws in both

Arizona and Alabama, as well as his work with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), now referred to as a 'nativist hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Think Progress Reports:

On a day set aside to honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitt Romney plans to tout his extreme immigration positions during a campaign stop in South Carolina today -- with Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona's and Alabama's immigration laws, at his side. He will attack his competitors Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their softer immigration stances, which could resonate with South Carolina voters who support that state's harmful immigration law. [...]

One of FAIR's main goals is to overturn the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which "ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans." FAIR's founder John Tanton has said that he wants the U.S. to remain a majority-white nation through limiting the number of non-whites who enter the U.S.

When Arizona's SB 1070, Kobach, in emails to then-state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), pushed for the law to be used to cast a wide net against Latinos. He helped write an even more harmful immigration law for Alabama, which effectively made it illegal to live as an undocumented immigrant in the state. And when Kobach ran for Congress in 2004, he lost by an 11-point margin after his opponent accused him of having ties to white supremacists. (While campaigning, he was working on a FAIR lawsuit against Kansas' law granting in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants; the suit was dismissed.) Kobach even once wrote a book opposing the anti-Apartheid boycott of South Africa.

Romney proudly said he "look[ed] forward" to working with Kobach on stopping illegal immigration, and Kobach has been equally effusive of Romney, saying, "Mitt Romney is the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets," when announcing his support. Again and again, Romney has proven how hardline he is on immigration, and Kobach's support continues to reinforce it.

The Hill recently reported:

"Mitt Romney stands apart from the others. He's the only one who's taken a strong across-the-board position on immigration," Kobach told The Hill in an interview.

"Gingrich and Perry, with their pro-amnesty positions, are not acceptable on their issues to me or the vast majority of Republicans."

Kobach also criticized Rick Santorum, another GOP candidate trying to win over conservatives, for voting in 1996 against a pilot program that turned into E-Verify, the national system which helps employers check the immigration status of their employees. But he did praise Santorum for more recently voicing support for the program.

"All of the other candidates stand to the left of Romney on immigration," Kobach said. "This is an issue that people with weak backbones sometimes have trouble taking a position on, and Mitt Romney has shown some real backbone on this issue."

TPM adds:

But that's not entirely what Kobach is known for. Rather than secure the border, Kobach is the architect of a different approach. As is evident in the Arizona and Alabama laws he helped design, the goal is to drive Hispanics, and particularly immigrants, out of the country. As Kobach put it, according to The Daily Beast, "People often see federal immigration policy as a dichotomy between amnesty and deportation. But the most rational approach is a third one: you ratchet up the enforcement so that people make their own decisions to start following the law." Or, as the legislation itself says, "attrition through enforcement." The Alabama law -- portions of which have been blocked in court for now -- has been blamed for prompting children to drop out of schools and devastating industries that depended on Hispanic labor. He is involved in legislation and lawsuits across the country, including suing states for granting in-state tuition to undocumented students, and is planning anti-immigration effort in Kansas this year.

Kobach, with degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, approaches the immigration question from a legal perspective and puts on a measured air, but his rhetoric is extreme. Kobach currently serves as counsel to the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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