Right-wing media’s pseudo-expert on immigration manipulated small towns to pass anti-immigrant legislation that failed to stand up in court
Kris Kobach’s anti-immigrant ordinances have left towns with hefty legal bills and nothing to show for it
Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE
Breitbart columnist and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom conservative media have embraced as an authority on all matters immigration, spent years traveling the country pushing anti-immigrant ordinances. He then represented some of those towns in litigation against those ordinances and made hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the laws often didn’t stand up in court, leaving the towns that adopted the measures to pick up the pieces when they were inevitably gutted.
On August 1, ProPublica and The Kansas City Star reported that Kobach, who is now running for governor, convinced numerous “small, largely white municipalities overwhelmed by real or perceived demographic shifts” to pass legislation making it nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to live and work there. Kobach earned legal fees by representing the towns, which “ran up hefty legal costs after hiring him to defend similar ordinances,” most of which fell apart. According to the report, “None of the towns are currently enforcing the laws he helped craft.” One mayor duped by Kobach described his operation as “a sham” and another called it “ambulance chasing,” explaining that Kobach’s attitude was as follows: “Let’s find a town that’s got some issues or pretends to have some issues, let’s drum up an immigration problem and maybe I can advance my political position, my political thinking and maybe make some money at the same time.”
Kobach has applied the same strategy to his media appearances, and conservative outlets are happy to help spread his message. As a Breitbart columnist, Kobach has pushed false claims about the crime rate for undocumented immigrants and spread white nationalist propaganda (Kobach himself has ties to white supremacists). Infowars and The Daily Caller have relied on Kobach’s supposed expertise, and The Gateway Pundit has even referred to him as an “immigration expert.” He also has a cozy relationship with Fox, appearing frequently on Fox & Friends and Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he has cited debunked research to claim that Dreamers -- undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age by their parents -- are prone to violence and has promoted his debunked theory that scores of undocumented immigrants were illegally voting. When Kobach faced an embarrassing trial in which he was reprimanded by a judge for voter suppression, Fox turned the other way, failing to report on his humiliating defeat.