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.
“Mitt Romney stands apart from the others. He’s the only one who’s taken a strong across-the-board position on immigration,” Kobach said, and he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that Romney was much farther to the right on illegal immigration than his fellow presidential candidates. Watch:
Considering Kobach’s own opinions and associations, however, his endorsement may not be one Romney wants to tout.
Before he became Kansas’ secretary of state, Kobach worked for Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal branch of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as a “nativist hate group.” 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.
Romney’s views on immigration are radical even in a field of candidates who appear to becompeting to take the most radical views on this subject. But as extreme as Romney’s immigration stances have been, campaigning with an anti-immigrant official with ties to a hate group on Martin Luther King Day is beyond the pale.