Kris Kobach, a former Bush administration attorney who is now the secretary of state of Kansas, helped write Arizona’s SB1070, the state’s infamous anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law. He helped Alabama craft one of the most disastrous anti-immigrant laws in the U.S. In his home state, Kobach has raised the specter of undocumented immigrants committing voter fraud in an attempt to justify a “proof of citizenship” law that has kept tens of thousands of Kansans from registering to vote. In 2012, he advised Mitt Romney on his infamous “self-deportation” policy. When politicians want help cracking down on undocumented immigrants, and they don’t mind going about it in creatively cruel ways, Kobach is their go-to guy.
So it should come as absolutely no surprise that when Donald Trump announced an astonishingly cruel plan to attempt to make Mexico pay for a wall at the southern border by holding hostage the money that Mexican immigrants send home to their family members, it was Kobach who was behind it.
When Kobach endorsed Trump back in February, he offered a version of what became the GOP frontrunner’s plan for the wall:
“We have the ability to shut down the flow of remittances to Mexico from illegal aliens working in the United States,” he said. “Mexico will then have to make a choice: Either make a single payment of $5 billion to $10 billion to the United States to pay for the wall, or lose most of the $23 billion in remittances that Mexico receives every year from its nationals working illegally in the United States.”
Now Kobach says that he was in fact the one behind Trump’s plan to seize remittances:
In an interview, Kobach said Trump’s focus on remittances — money sent by individuals in the U.S. to friends and family in other countries — is consistent with what he had been advising the campaign. He said he has spoken with the campaign directly, and Trump himself, about immigration.
“Mr. Trump was receptive to that idea and I think he’s an excellent negotiator and he looks for opportunities to put pressure on opposing parties in negotiations and this fits the bill,” Kobach said.
The path outlined by Trump is a more detailed version of what Kobach proposed in February when he endorsed the candidate. During an interview Friday, when directed to Trump’s plan on his campaign website, Kobach said he had drafted portions of the document. The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request to elaborate on Kobach’s involvement with formulating Trump’s position on paying for the wall.
“I have been in touch with Mr. Trump directly and his campaign team about this issue,” Kobach said.
Trump’s plan, like many ideas originating with Kobach, would not only be unnecessarily cruel but could also be a logistical nightmare and an economic disaster, one that would probably end up increasing the rate of Mexican immigration into the U.S.