Kris W. Kobach is the secretary of state of Kansas and a legal counsel with the conservative Immigration Law Reform Institute in Washington, D.C.
He served as a federal prosecutor under former President George W. Bush, hosted a radio talk show and worked as a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor.
Kobach is most known, however, as the author of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the controversial law that gives local police broad powers to question and arrest undocumented immigrants. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, used the law as model for similar legislation. Kobach helped write the Alabama version.
He also is the driving force behind proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements in Kansas that other states have modeled.
In January, Kobach endorsed the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney days before the South Carolina primary.
Kobach was born in Madison, Wis., on March 26, 1966 but grew up in Topeka, Kan.
An exceptional student, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard College in 1988. He wan a Marshall Scholarship from the British government and earned a doctorate in Political Science from Oxford University in 1992. Kobach went on to receive his law degree from Yale Law School.
In 2001, Kobach joined the Bush administration and worked under Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft as his chief adviser on immigration law and border security. Kobach helped developed a fingerprint registration system to help prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the country.
He also worked on the Bush administration’s plan to restructure the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Working for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), Kobach has tried several prominent immigration cases, often taking on the American Civil Liberties Union in the courts. He represented Hazleton, Pa., in defense of the city’s efforts to prevent undocumented immigrants from seeking employment and housing.
He also has represented opponents of California’s DREAM Act that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates. Kobach also has worked on cases opposing so-called “sanctuary cities” for immigrants.
The IRLI is a creation of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), one of the most active and conservative groups calling for an aggressive hardline approach to immigration and undocumented residents.
Kobach has been a frequent guest on conservative television and radio shows, including The O’Reilly Factor on the FOX News Network.
Positions on Immigration:
Kobach says his philosophical approach to immigration policy is to promote “attrition through enforcement.” The idea is to create laws that are so onerous to undocumented immigrants that they are unable to live and work in an area.
In Arizona, Kobach worked with Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to write and implement the state’s controversial law. The Obama administration and its Department of Justice has accused Sheriff Arpaio’s office of racial profiling in its treatment of Hispanics. Kobach argues that the hard-line laws are beneficial to taxpayers because driving immigrants away relieves fiscal burdens they put on state government.
“Illegal immigration is the ultimate unfunded mandate,” Kobach says.
“State governments, not the federal government, shoulder the lion's share of the fiscal burden of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration costs the states some $80 billion a year, net, after any taxes paid by illegal aliens are considered. The net fiscal cost to the federal government is a quarter of that.”
Romney embraced Kobach’s endorsement. The risk to his campaign, however, is that it’s seen as a hard shift toward the Tea Party and the extreme right of the Republican spectrum. Most analysts believe Romney cannot win the general election against President Obama with out significant support from Latino and Hispanic voters. Kobach’s endorsement will not help that.
"I'm so proud to earn Kris's support," Romney said in a statement. "I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem."