New reports highlight anti-immigrant leader’s bigotry and its cost to Americans

Two reports were released today on attorney Kris Kobach, Kansas’ newly elected Secretary of State. Kobach has long worked as legal counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The reports go into detail about Kobach’s ties to the political right - especially white nationalist John Tanton - and the high price to American communities for his local immigration strategies.

The first report, “Unconstitutional and Costly The High Price of Local Immigration Enforcement” published by the Center for American Progress, describes the many ways five communities have suffered financially as a result of Kobach’s activities.  Here are highlights of its findings:

  • Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the leader of the court fights for local immigration enforcement, is in the tank for at least $2.8 million with some estimates totaling $5 million as it defends its ordinance all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Riverside, New Jersey suffered a local economic downturn before the city rescinded its anti-immigrant ordinance and welcomed the return of immigrants.
  • Farmers Branch, Texas, has spent nearly $4 million in legal fees and is expected to spend at least $5 million to defend its anti-immigration statute with no end in sight.
  • Prince William County, Virginia dramatically scaled back a tough immigration statute after realizing the original version would cost millions to enforce and defend in court.
  • Fremont, Nebraska, increased the city’s property tax to help pay the legal fees for its anti-immigration ordinance which it intends to defend.

The second report, “When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center looks at Kobach’s ties to bigotry, most notably ties to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The report states:

“Over the years, nativist lawyer Kris Kobach has drawn a great deal of criticism for his association with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — from his political opponents, human rights advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has listed FAIR as a hate group since 2007. Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), FAIR’s legal arm, as senior legal counsel in 2004 and remains “of counsel” to the group today.”

The reports illustrate a scary trend for American communities. Kobach has meddled in the legislation of several states, with increasingly disastrous results. State and local laws that punish immigrants are spawning a patchwork of terror around the country.