Arizona sheriff Arpaio stumps for Kobach

07/14/2010 12:00 AM

07/14/2010 12:06 AM

OVERLAND PARK — An Arizona sheriff known for his tough stance on illegal immigration has told a group of nearly 2,000 Kansas Republicans that his state needs its new immigration law because the federal government isn't doing its job.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio spoke Tuesday night at an "Illegal Means Illegal" rally and fundraiser in suburban Kansas City for Kansas secretary of state candidate Kris Kobach.

Kobach helped write the Arizona law that directs officers to question people who have been stopped for another crime about their immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion they're in the U.S. illegally.

Arpaio says the law will allow his state to protect its residents.

About 200 people stood outside the rally in silent protest of the law, which they said will lead to racial profiling. Organizers of the protest said they intentionally stayed hundreds of feet away from the rally to avoid a confrontation.

During the rally, police announced that they had found a suspicious package nearby. The rally continued and police did not evacuate the convention center.

Police asked Overland Park fire officials be on standby around 7:30 p.m. in regard to a bomb threat, fire department spokesman Jason Rhodes said. They had not been called to assist, however, and would not be unless hazardous materials were involved, he said.

Kobach's address was briefly interrupted when authorities announced the discovery of the suspicious package. Arpaio and Kobach urged people to leave if they wanted to, but most of the crowd stayed to listen.

After the event ended, several hundred people had to wait while authorities continued to investigate.

The rally was first scheduled to be held at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe before the university president canceled, fearing disruptions due to the heightened rhetoric and emotions around the issue.

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