Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration bill, ensured on Tuesday that the Republican Party platform will also have his fingerprint.
During a meeting of the GOP platform committee in Tampa, Fla., Kobach called for the party to officially back increased border fencing and the E-Verify employment verification system, and to go after two immigrant-friendly initiatives: in-state tuition for some undocumented young people and so-called sanctuary cities. Those measures were in the 2008 Republican platform but had been dropped from the draft this year, Politico reported.
"These positions are consistent with the Romney campaign," Kobach said. "As you all remember, one of the primary reasons that Governor Romney rose past Governor Perry when Mr. Perry was achieving first place in the polls was because of his opposition to in-state tuition for illegal aliens."
None of the changes to the platform on immigration were out of left field, but they did provide more specificity that could later cause issues for candidates more moderate on immigration -- or those, like presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who have tried to edge back toward the center. In-state tuition, for instance, won support in Texas from the legislature and the Republican governor, former Romney challenger Rick Perry, and remains in place in several other GOP-led states.
Romney opposed in-state tuition during the Republican primary, as noted by Kobach. Since then, though, Romney hasn't spoken about the issue, and has toned down his immigration rhetoric generally. Kobach similarly left the spotlight of the Romney campaign, after being featured as an adviser on immigration issues.
Now in the general election, Romney is attempting to win more Latino voters, who tend to vote Democratic and oppose measures such as SB 1070.
But Kobach's positions on immigration, most notably the idea of "attrition through enforcement" -- what Romney called "self-deportation" -- laid out by SB 1070, will still be part of the Republican message.
Sanctuary cities are those with policies instructing police not to ask for proof of immigration status, the opposite of laws such as SB 1070. Supporters of sanctuary city ordinances argue they increase public safety by making victims and witnesses feel they can come to police to report crime.
E-Verify, meanwhile, is a critical part of "attrition through enforcement," because it could make it difficult for undocumented immigrants to find work. The E-Verify portion of the platform passed after some debate from business owners who said they are opposed. "I believe that it is almost insulting to me as a small business owner that we would even ask businesses to E-Verify their employees before welfare benefits are ... E-Verified," Kathy Szeliga, a delegate from Maryland, said.
But Kobach won out. "We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today," he said.
Another adopted provision, this one from evangelical Texan David Barton, struck language about "cattle" in reference to human trafficking, saying it should be replaced with a word that reflects the severity of the issue. "As a rancher and as a Texan, that is not nearly as demeaning as it's intended to be, so I recommend we strike that language," Barton said, drawing a laugh.
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The Template: California Proposition 187 (1994)
California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.
The Worst: Arizona SB 1070
The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. This law has been widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It requires state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there is "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believe was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. But it has generated a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. A federal judge issued a ruling that blocked what critics saw as some of the law's harshest provisions. House: 35-31 (4/12/2011)
Following Arizona's Footsteps: Georgia HB 87
The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17
Verifying Authorized Workers: Pennsylvania HB 1502
This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>
A Spin Off of Arizona: Utah HB 497
Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)
The Most Comprehensive: Florida HB-1C
Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010
The Hot Seat: Alabama HB 56
The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>