Prairie Politics

Kris Kobach dismisses criticism over appearance discussing immigration policy

Secretary of State Kris Kobach brushed off any controversy surrounding his appearance at an immigration policy conference last month.

Kobach attended the annual Writers Workshop held by the Social Contract Press in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25. The group is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which criticized Kobach’s presence at the event in a post.

In a phone call Tuesday afternoon, Kobach described the Social Contract Press as “a think tank for pro-enforcement immigration policies.” He said he discussed President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, which halted millions of deportations, and the lawsuit brought against the Obama administration by agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for which he is an attorney.

Kobach’s attendance was highlighted by national news websites, including Salon and Talking Points Memo, after the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups raised concerns.

The Southern Poverty Law Center contends the Social Contract Press and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another group with ties to Kobach, have racial motivations behind their ideology.

“Given Kobach’s racially charged main efforts of recent years – working to restrict voting rights and curtail immigration – his relationship with racist groups isn’t too difficult to understand,” the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote on its website, questioning “Kobach’s claims that he is simply pursuing these issues to enforce the law.”

“His strange bedfellows in the white nationalist movement would certainly agree that fewer immigrants and stricter voting procedures are a good thing, because, well, that would stop brown and black people from being empowered,” the center said.

Kobach dismissed the criticism.

“According to Southern Poverty Law Center, this group and a half-dozen other groups that oppose illegal immigration must therefore be white nationalists. They make these ridiculous charges,” Kobach said.

“Some of the other speakers at the conference were Hispanic and black,” he noted.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle