Some “news” just isn’t.
Monday, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach endorsed Donald Trump. Hardly a shock, but buyer beware.
Recall that Kobach helped deep-six the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. He’s credited with duping the GOP nominee into believing that illegal immigration can be solved by self-deportation. That’s the theory that making life as unbearable as possible for undocumented migrants will convince them to return to their native countries en masse.
It’s a false notion, one from which the GOP later distanced itself. But Trump doesn’t have a clue about immigration policy; how it works, how it goes astray and the solid fixes necessary for our broken system.
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Kobach does know. But he tends to deny his own intellect and often pontificates what people want to hear — the tough-talk line on illegal immigration. Trump will be the perfect mark.
Trump lives in a fantasy land, believing a massive — huge! — wall could and should be constructed at the southern border. Not to mention his delusion that the Mexican government will pay the bill.
In a similar vein of nonsense, the self-deportation theory is based on a false reading of the undocumented population. Families aren’t likely to up and leave simply because things get rough. They already have it rough: open to exploitation by unscrupulous employers and facing the possibility of deportation, of being red-flagged after relatively minor missteps like rolling through a stop sign. It’s a precarious way to live.
But families do it. And they tend to be made up of some members who are legal, some who are not, and some relatives who might be in the process of applying for a legal status but are in legal limbo, often due to decade’s long backlogs in the application process. Despite their legal standing, or lack thereof, they begin to feel American pretty quickly. Multigenerational families don’t uproot easily.
Kobach’s endorsement is about him latching to Trump’s soaring wingspan. It’s not Trump who needs Kobach. It’s the reverse.
Kobach would fit neatly into a Trump administration; lots of bluster and little effective work. He’s made a mockery of the right to vote in Kansas, chasing after fraud that doesn’t exist. The same can be said for much of his immigration theories. Ask the people of Hazleton, Pa. He nearly bankrupted them.
The town is one of several that bought into Kobach’s flawed ideas on immigration, passing harsh laws to combat undocumented workers. They got sued and were left with having to pay the legal costs and Kobach’s fees. Kobach preyed on those voters’ limited knowledge of complicated aspects of immigration law and policy.
Like Romney. The former presidential candidate learned the hard way that self-deportation wouldn’t be effective. He lost the election, abandoned by Latinos at the polls.
Hindsight came later. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters in 2013 that Romney latching on to self-deportation was a huge mistake. “It’s not something that has anything to do with our party,” Priebus said. “But when a candidate makes those comments, obviously it hurts us.”
So 2016 must feel like déjà vu.
Illegal immigration isn’t easily solved because it’s an ingrained problem that’s been building for decades. President Ronald Reagan signed the last amnesty. But Congress back then failed to also fix the systems by which people can legally apply to enter the country, nor did it allow for the creation of policy that can nimbly meet labor and other needs. It wasn’t a surprise when more people continued to arrive without authorization, driven by upswings in the economy (and many left when the jobs dried up).
The best ways to solve illegal immigration have much to do with legal immigration. The two are interrelated. Build a fully functioning, viable way for people to migrate legally, to match them with labor needs without harming U.S.-born workers, or to allow them to join family members within a manageable time frame (not the 20-plus-year waits that exist now) and they would do it.
We don’t have such a process. Explaining that is not stump-speech material. It’s not boasting about a wall. Such nuance is not served by anger-laced diatribe.
So don’t be surprised when Trump starts blasting about how he’s going to force undocumented families to load up U-Hauls and drive themselves across international borders.
And it won’t take much guesswork to know which little bird is whispering in his ear.