Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is promising to press several controversial immigration measures when the state legislature reconvenes in January.
Having made immigration his signature issue, Kobach told the Lawrence Journal-World, that he wants the legislature to take up several immigration-related measures in the next session. This includes a bill similar to the controversial Arizona immigration measure he helped write, which allows police officers to detain individuals they believe may be undocumented.
"I think one of the reasons is that there is just so much demand for it from constituents," he said.
Also, he said, an e-Verify bill that has failed in the past in the Kansas Legislature is more likely to gain acceptance because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that upheld an Arizona law that requires employers use the E-Verify database system to check the immigration status of their workers.
During the 2011 session, legislation similar to another Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, and a bill to repeal in-state tuition for some undocumented students, was under consideration. Kobach has been a driving force behind both measures.
Kobach's announcement comes less than a week after Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce was recalled from his Senate seat -- an election based in large part on Pearce's authorship of the Arizona law. Kobach worked with Pearce to draft the immigration law, which was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2010.
Kobach, a former Kansas Republican party chairman and Justice Department attorney, has been pushing similar immigration laws in multiple states, including Alabama. The Alabama law has also been endorsed by Brewer. Kobach's official duties as secretary of state do not include immigration or international issues, but are centered around election administration and business registration.
The announcement comes as Kansas legislators are gearing up for a legislative session that will play out against the backdrop of a growing split among conservatives and moderates in the state Republican party. With conservative Republicans controlling the governor's office and the state House of Representatives, moderate Republicans have been using their control of the state Senate to block conservative-related measures. A group of conservative Republicans -- mainly House members -- have announced plans to challenge moderate Republican senators in the primary to gain control of the Senate.
Among the issues debated in the moderate vs. conservative Kansas feud have been immigration, taxation, judicial selection, strip clubs, funding for the arts and education.