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Election 2016

The Architect of the Most Racist Law in Modern American History Has Been Named to Trump's Team

One more sign of the really bad things to come.

Photo Credit: Kris Kobach Facebook Page

Kris Kobach, the extremely controversial Kansas secretary of state, has been named to Donald Trump's transition team. 

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been asked to join President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

The team will advise Trump on policy issues leading up to his swearing-in in January, preparing him to begin his first 100 days in office. It’s an unpaid position for Kobach.

Kobach called the transition from Obama’s presidency to Trump’s “one of the sharpest transitions we’ve seen,” a 180-degree turn for the country.

Why should this terrify you? Because Donald Trump has just named one of the most racist politicians in all of America to his transition team. Kris Kobach was the architect of the most racist law in modern American history. SB 1070 passed in Arizona in 2010. What did it mean? If you have brown skin or an accent, police had a right to stop you, detain you and demand you prove your citizenship.

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 compels police to ask for papers from anyone they have a reasonable suspicion of being without status. Under this law any person of color, or anyone with a foreign accent, can be required to prove their status and be jailed—regardless of whether they are a citizen or an immigrant—until they can do so. The Supreme Court indicated that prolonged detention would be impermissible, but people’s rights will likely be violated before that limitation can be enforced.

By targeting certain groups of people living within the state, the Arizona law amounts to an ethnically divisive and deeply hostile social policy. It raises the specter of states treating people differently based solely on their appearance rather than on their actions. Every person in Arizona and states that pass S.B. 1070-like legislation will be required to carry proof of their legal status at all times or face the possibility of being detained. In practice it will be people of color that bear the brunt of these policies.

It was nicknamed the “Papers Please” law and thanks to Kris Kobach and the right-wing ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), two dozen copycat bills quickly spread to other conservative states. Can you imagine walking down the street and police having the power to stop you and your children and throw you in jail on the suspicion alone that maybe you don’t belong? Because you have brown skin or an accent? Terrifying, right?

What if I told you that same man, Kris Kobach, spoke to a group of White Nationalists just last year?

On Oct. 25, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was a featured speaker at a “writers' workshop” put on by the white nationalist The Social Contract Press (TSCP), according to a report from the Center for New Community. For an elected official, this is a problem.

The Social Contract Press is a Michigan-based publishing house that routinely puts out race-baiting articles penned by well known white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S., Inc., the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement and TSCP’s publisher. Tanton has assiduously cultivated relationships with Holocaust deniers, eugenicists and various other extremists over the years. And he’s clear about his racism:  “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

Before becoming the secretary of state in Kansas, Kobach worked for an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group:

Kobach’s closeness to hate groups runs far deeper than speaking to TSCP. For years, Kobach has worked as a lawyer for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed FAIR as a hate group since 2007—and for good reason.

Tanton founded FAIR, and its current President Dan Stein has said, among other things, “Immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing … Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for.” In another instance, Stein said that the 1965 Immigration Act, which undid four decades of explicitly racist immigration policy in the United States, “was a great way to retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance and hubris…and it’s a form of revengism, or revenge, that these forces continue to push the immigration policy that they know full well are [sic] creating chaos and will continue to create chaos down the line.”

Kris Kobach is also extremely dedicated to making sure that minorities, women and low-income voters can’t participate in elections. His outrageously unconstitutional laws and actions were struck down by the federal courts last month. From the Kansas City Star:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has suffered another stinging, embarrassing loss in court. And that’s a victory for the rights of voters in the Sunflower State.

Kobach’s anti-voter efforts were slapped down Friday by a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia.

The editorial went even further:

Earlier this year, the often-smug Kobach had assured people that the courts would uphold his attempt to make it harder to vote.

But that hasn’t happened at any step of the way, as courts often have ruled against Kobach’s disdainful attitude toward voters — especially those who have low incomes or are minorities.

This is a repulsive signal from Donald Trump. If this is a sign of things to come, buckle up. We are going to have to fight like hell to save this democracy. 

 

Jen Hayden is a writer for DailyKos.

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