Arizona Law Author Kris Kobach Wants to Cast a Wide Net Against Latinos

kris kobachThursday, Arizona lawmakers made a handful of changes to the immigration bill Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) recently signed into effect that appear to be in response to many of the criticisms aimed at the bill. One of those changes replaces the phrase “lawful contact” with “lawful stop, detention or arrest” to “apparently clarify that officers don’t need to question a victim or witness about their legal status.” However, the legislature also implemented a third change that some call “frightening.” As part of the amended bill, a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant.

Wonk Room recently obtained an email written by Kris Kobach, a lawyer at the Immigration Reform Law Institute — the group which credits itself with writing the bill — to Arizona state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), urging him to include language that will allow police to use city ordinance violations such as “cars on blocks in the yard” as an excuse to “initiate quieries” in light of the “lawful contact” deletion:


To begin with, Kobach’s correspondence affirms that though the bill was proposed and passed in Arizona, the shots are being called by a small group of lawyers whose office is based in Washington, DC. It also indicates that after vigorously defending his bill and its “lawful contact provision” in the New York Times, Kobach may have had second thoughts about the constitutionality of the bill he prides himself with writing.

More importantly, Kobach is basically admitting to Pearce that by allowing police to use the violation of “any county or municipal ordinance” as a basis for inquiring about a person’s immigration status, the bill will still cast a wide enough net to help offset the effect of omitting the “lawful contact” language which would’ve allowed police to ask just about anyone they encounter about their immigration status. The examples Kobach provides, “cars on blocks in the yard” or “too many occupants of a rental accommodation,” suggest that net will mostly end up being cast over the poor.


In an email to Wonk Room, David Leopold — president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association — wrote:


Kobach’s email to Pearce is chilling. Knowing full well that the phrase “lawful contact” must go (a flip flop from the position he took yesterday in the New York Times) he recommends tweaking the law in a manner that would appear to allow profiling. Why else would he be interested in using property or rental codes to ferret out undocumented people? Is he aware of some credible study that shows unauthorized aliens from say Ireland or Canada, or some other country tend to put their cars on blocks and/or overcrowd apartments? Kris Kobach and Senator Pearce owe Arizonans and the nation an immediate explanation. Note: it appears the email was written by Kobach on Wednesday evening before his op-ed ran in the New York Times the next morning. The op-ed argued that the Arizona law as written was legal. If he was working on changing it why then did he let the New York Times piece run?Andrea Christina Nill

Crossposted with permission from the Wonk Room.


  1. Lydia G Sanchez Bracamonte says

    My first reaction to this article is outrage. And I ask myself, why it is that you would print this. We know that for quite some time the INS now known as ICE nas been working to find areas in the law and areas in the country where there are “vunrabilities” and it is in these areas where they have committed to test if one group of “immigrants can be swept up without regard to due process and witout causing a stir. In the early 80’s a group of lawyers were successful in forcing the INS to open their records to scrutiny. The result was the discovery of a document entitled “A contingency Plan”Aliens, Immigrants and Citizens: Alike” In this document the authors describe a plan to create senarios in which areas of the country were targeted to ‘experiment on groups of immigrants. This would help in determining what groups had community support and which did not. Those that did not could be sweeped up and taken to detention centers. Where they would eventually be deported. The first of the many experiments was done in the midwest with the Arab community. and Later it followed that other communities of immigrants would follow. The really scary part was that it appears that the experimenting has continued. But more so that groups of Law Firms have cropped up to help create questionable legislation.

    Arizona’s SB 1070 in in original for was written to incorporate INS regulations into the law of the State. Problem is that There are whole distinct functions that State police have compared to INS/ICE officials.

    1. Entering in to the US is not in and of itself a crime. And in fact the person entering has to bee seen physically entering and that person observing has to know that the person is entering witout permission. It is still not a federal crime.

    2. The State Police are at the service of the communities they are charged to protect. They are there to enforce laws that are relevant to the order and tranquility of a community. They are there to prevent violence against teh residents of the community. Police are there to investigate crimes and find resolution toward creating a safe place for people to live. In order for them to do their job, they by necessaty need the cooperation of the residents they are designated to serve. Wioth out cooperation, and trust, mutual respect the police can not do an effective job.

    Now enters the combination of State Police to do the work of the INS/ICE. What should come first, the duty to serve and protect or the function of interrogator? The job to investigate a crime against a community or violence of one person against another, a traffice accident or the legal status of the individuals that observed the act, or crime that too place?

    Two distinct and seperate functions. INS cause havloc,
    Police are supposed to be trusted allies of the tranquility of a community.

    The Az Legislation is whole misguided and was passed to help certain Republicans get elected in this very tough election year.
    The Police and closed minded sherif like Arpaio would have a field day combining the use of archic laws that have not been in use for some long years just to have an excuels to inflict havoc on people of color. It is the standard fair for many chicanos/mexicanos in Arizona for a long time. Communities have fought against the abuse. And Racists have for a long time been acusing the largest “minority” in the state of every ill imaginable. It only helps to distract fro the activities of really big-time criminals that are in desguise as bankers, Real Estate agents, Insurance people and ranchers many of whom call on the police or the INS/ICE to round up their workers on payday to hopfull deport them instead of paying for their week’s work.

    Thses lawyers are well aware that the constitution and the Supreme Court Rulings on due process, whether you are a citizen, legal resident of undocumented, You have the right to be treated with dignity, and you have ther right to due process among other important protections. These “pieces of legislations are an attempt to circumvent the perview of a federal agency and oversem teh bounds of teh state’s authority. I have doubts taht they will stand the test of time. More importantly, they are doing absolutely nothing to get the GOP hopefuls elected this election year.

    • Rob says

      Thank you for your response to this article Lydia.
      It was very interesting and insightful.

      I was not aware of that “contingency document”.

      Have a happy Holiday.


  2. Lydia G Sanchez Bracamonte says

    In responce to the article written and published on May 1st :
    “The usual Suspects: Arizona & the Black/Latino divide” / LA Progressive

    I have for a very long time worked within the Latino Community not only as an advocate as an advocate of workers and their rights but also as an advocate for immigrants’ rights. As a Union activist it is often my job to dispel myths and misconceptions that will create divides between groups of workers, not merely between African-American (blacks) and Latinos/Mexicanos/Chicanos/South and Central Americans but from groups of all races nationalities and colors.

    I have had the good fortune to have been taken under the wing of many African American Civil Rights activists who helped to form my understanding of the African-American struggle, the inter-connected-relation between the struggles of workers of all colors; especially those between the Black Community and the Latino Community. Those who fail to understand that we are brothers and sisters of the same struggle have not learned the real intimate relationship between our peoples. That history must be told and retold until we stop falling for the racial divide card that arbitrarily divides our common interest for a better life for all of us.

    Africans- were brought to the “new world” after the Colonizers began to feel deep resistance from the indigenous communities in the “new lands”. Africans were brought by force, stripped of their lands, separated from their ties to family, land, language, and culture by an ocean. And under the whip, they were forced to serve a master they neither knew nothing of nor held any debt to.

    The Latino communities and the Native American people (the first peoples of this continent) greeted these new comers first with friendship, only to see that it was a false hand being extended. We too were under a whip and there were attempts to force natives into enslavement. We resisted and many of our ancestors died or went in hiding only to come back to fight again and again in defense of our land, culture, language and families. In the end, we were striped of our lands, and called outsiders in our own homeland.

    So it is for this reason that I am constantly confounded to find articles of this nature being published under the guise of “progressive analysis”. As progressives, it is our duty to read all forms of articles and then to provide clarity to a world that is inherently designed to create confusion and class divisions among working people of all colors. We live in a “culture” where individualism greed, avarice has been extolled and has gone rampantly array. We are as a nation in moral crisis. However, the election of Barack Obama was the first step in trying to turn this country around.

    Arizona has few African Americans when you compare the demographics of this state. The few that are there are closely linked to communities of Mexican decent. For the degree of difference in the color of a black man or woman is about the same as that within the Mexicano/Chicano, for “My people range from snow to crow.”

    The Indigenous fought to keep their culture and way of life, language intact. African slaves found freedom by escaping to the south and were openly accepted by indigenous of North, Central and South America. The willing mixing of our races can be seen in many of our children. In my own family, you can see the mix merely by looking at my father who cold be mistaken for a black man because of his curly hair broad nose and full lips. And while we are familiar with the paper bag test, we are not antagonistic to the rich full range of color.

    The African experience that Ms Hutchinson describes in her article is the same for all people of color. She says “black liberation resistance has always been based on the struggle for recognition of both African and American humanity and the basic right to citizenship.” What she describes is the experience of the disenfranchised of any color of people residing in America today. It is experience of the disenfranchised within the Chinese, Japanese, the Irish, the Jewish community, or any other hyphenated American. We too suffer under a society that demands we negate our roots of origin and claim only that we are “American.” As if to be American is our new race as a people. But what does that mean?

    Many men and women of the 40-50, attempted to homogenize themselves by claiming they were Americans, but it did not mean that they were any more accepted then before. Many Latinos of the 40-50’s fought as do in the military as a way of showing their loyalty to the United States. It was to no avail, as we saw by the attacks on Latinos by WWII soldiers, ( Zoot Suite Riots.) We are reliving those same horrors today, as new immigrants enlist, to prove their loyalty, and to expedite their path towards citizenship and acceptance, only to find at the end of this journey they are still “unwanted.” or “undesirable.” Many denied their language and culture in hopes of being allowed in and up the proverbial economic ladder to only to realize it was all for not..

    America is a continent not merely a nation, So in point of fact we are all Americans whether hyphenated or not. Even those who came forcibly must acknowledge some tie by generations who suffered and fought to transform the new world into a nation that practices the art of inclusion in a participatory democracy. This is the legacy of the suffrage movement which is tied to the fight to end slavery, which pushed to propel us forward through to the 60’s with the fight for equality and inclusion of all people. Not just those that established the Constitution in 1776.

    Those words that preface the constitution were given new expanded meaning of inclusion for all the disenfranchised of our nation through the struggles of our past.

    :“We the people, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity take on a more profound meaning

    When the Multinational/ Monosony bloated Corporate powers are capable creating and maintaining divisions within the diversity of our nation can they grow and prosper. Under the Bush administrations, we lived through such a period of neglect for the rights and freedoms we collectively claim as rights today.

    Now elements that are interested in pitting one group against the other are hoping to push back the progress made when we gathered our forces and elected the first black man into the White House: A man that we could look at in the face and see a reflection of ourselves.

    The issue of immigration has and will be a touchy issue. There are those that would like for the workers on the lower rungs of the economic ladder to believe that the immigrant community is steeling their jobs and/or the cause of crime; or that it is the H1B worker taking away the good corporate jobs from middle-management America and inventers’ jobs from the more educated and upper-middle rungs of the ladders.

    It is neither. Again, the corporate head of the monster we are fighting to get back into the regulatory box is to blame. Take for example, Wal-Mart, (the corporation that boast of being so concerned about the price we pay for goods), is one of the main exporter of US jobs. It’s product supplier are told to lower their purchaser’s prices. If they can not meet Wal-Mart’s price demand, then the Wal-Mart Corporation provides them with the means and info to move elsewhere to meet their demand on prices.

    Their model has been duplicated time and time again. But the idea of going outside of the US for cheaper labor, and materials is not a new one. US Steel did it when it concertedly moved to crush the Unions in the 1980. . They made no bones about it. In response to many efforts to keep the steel factories from closing or moving, US STEEL reminded the US public who and what they were in the following statement “US Steel is in the business of making money, not steel. But Steel has been one of the many sources in which we have made money.” Our steel factories were not unprofitable, it was that they want to make even more.”
    Under Reagan administration they found a way to do just that. For several Administrations more, we as Americans saw their “elected leaders” help Business export our jobs. Government incentives were given to many corporations, including favorable trade tax reductions.

    We need to see some articles that put a perspective on this recent phenomenon in Arizona.. Issues like Immigration or the passage of SB 1070 can not be presented in a simple article of 500 or 1,000 words. Immigration, racism, and the internal fight for reclaiming our government from the hands of corporate interests must be addressed in a series of well prepared articles with the help of experts in the field.

    And to do that we must review the history of the state we are in and evaluate the understanding of “democracy” and the process that goes beyond the ballot box, which make the word such a force to contend with. We can not look at the issue of immigration merely from the limited view of how people enter or via the idea of travel. It is a complex issue intertwined with our US Foreign Policy, Domestic Policies and our Trade Policies that has for far too long only represented corporate interest and has failed for far too long to consider the affects on the people that reside within the boundaries of the countries we call our neighbors or our own borders.

    Sincerely submitted
    By Lydia G Sanchez Bracamonte
    Monday, May 03, 2010

    • Rob says

      Again another very interesting and enlightening response to the
      article..Que up the good work on behalf of the Latino community.

      I appreciate your work.



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