The man seen as the “godfather” of the harsh immigration laws adopted by Arizona and Alabama is seeking the expulsion of at least five million undocumented immigrants over the next four years, a goal he feels is possible if he helps Mitt Romney win the presidency.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has become one of Romney’s main advisors on immigration matters.
For Kobach and like-minded conservative groups, illegal immigration is not a reflection of the problems that beset the U.S. immigration system but rather a plague that must be wiped out at all costs.
Press accounts say Kobach has been in close consultation with the Romney campaign about possible changes in the current immigration policy, such that if the former Massachusetts governor wins the presidency in November, the “war of attrition” would be expanded against undocumented immigrants.
Kobach calculates that, with Romney in the White House, at least five million undocumented immigrants could be deported over the next four years.
The idea is to create such a hostile and suffocating environment for undocumented immigrants that, lacking work and access to basic services, they would have no other choice but to opt for what Romney describes as “self-deportation.”
That is the plan that Kobach has presented in Arizona, Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma, among other states that are seeking to tighten the regulations around undocumented immigrations, despite the fact that the federal government has filed lawsuits over the usurpation of its powers to ensure compliance with immigration laws.
Neither academic studies nor political analyses regarding the negative impact of these laws move Kobach and the groups that support him and are aiming to make life difficult for undocumented foreigners.
The really serious thing about all this, according to activists who support immigration reform, is that Romney is paying attention to the conservative anti-immigrant groups.
Romney has even pointed to Arizona’s SB 1070 law as the “model” to follow for other states facing the problem of illegal immigration.
For Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, it is clear that if Romney wins the Republic nomination and subsequently the presidency, undocumented immigrants can expect more persecution.
This is something that, in her judgment, cannot be allowed because the Kobach-inspired state laws are resulting in the separation and breakup of immigrant families.
Alabama’s HB 56, which followed Arizona’s example, has sparked the exodus of undocumented foreigners to neighboring states, although they are not leaving the country as its sponsors believe.
If, as it says, the Republican Party is the party that defends “family values” and is seeking to gain supporters among Latinos, there is no justification for the persecution of undocumented immigrants, pro-reform activists say.
If the consensus is that the current immigration system doesn’t work properly and doesn’t reflect the needs of the U.S. labor market, the task of fixing it is Congress’s responsibility, and it is there that the pressure must be exerted.
Statistics show that there has been an improvement in border monitoring and in the implementation of rules against hiring undocumented immigrants as well as a decline in illegal crossings of the frontier with Mexico. That is to say, there is no excuse why Congress should not be giving clear answers on illegal immigration in the United States.
Another thing, however, is that in this election year politicians are saying whatever they feel they have to in order to get votes.