One of the Republican Party’s top minds on immigration reform told a Senate panel on Monday that he does not believe a policy of “self-deportation” is “some radical idea.”
To the contrary, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he thinks making American society unforgiving and hostile to undocumented immigrants is the only way to permanently solve the nation’s immigration problems.
The problem with that idea, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) pointed out, is that voters largely rejected a policy of self-deportation when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency.
Romney famously advocated the policy during a Republican primary debate, but ultimately backed off once the campaign realized how politically toxic the proposal is. Kobach, similarly, lost his title as Romney’s “adviser” at that point, being downgraded by the campaign to a Romney “supporter.”
It didn’t matter: 71 percent of Latino voters supported President Barack Obama, leaving Romney with a historic deficit among America’s fastest-growing populace. In the aftermath, Romney’s agreement with Kobach was seen by fellow Republicans, like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), as a leading reason Latinos flocked to the Democratic Party in record numbers.
Kobach has gone on to become the face and voice of anti-immigration Republican factions currently locked in a power struggle with mainstream Republicans, who fear the consequences of turning Latinos into Democrats for a generation or more.
“We’re beyond that now,” Durbin told Kobach on Monday. “You can stick with that theory all that you’d like, but what we’re talking about now is whether America is a better country if we have an immigration system that brings 11 million people out of the shadows, to register with this government so we know who they are, where they are, do a criminal background check, or whether we leave them in the shadows.”
This video is from the Senate Judiciary Committee, published to YouTube on Monday, April 22, 2013, as snipped by Mother Jones.