Somebody better give Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach a reality check, and legislators better get ready to yank the reins on him.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday on Arizona’s controversial illegal immigration law, Kobach said Kansas had just gotten a “green light” to proceed with its own legislation. That, even though the nation’s high court struck down three of the four provisions of the law that were challenged.
The court did uphold the so-called “show me your papers” provision, which Kobach called the “core” of the Arizona law, but even still the court cautioned against overzealous application of that and left open the option to review it again later. Overall, the court sent the message that immigration is under federal jurisdiction and said that a state “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
Nonetheless, Kobach, who helped draft the Arizona law, appears to be champing at the bit to do more in Kansas.
“If Kansas wanted to take the two strongest steps, which would be an E-Verify requirement for the whole state and arrest requirement like Arizona’s ... they have a green light to do so,” he said.
Requiring businesses and government contractors to use the federal E-Verify database to check the immigration status of new employees seems reasonable, if necessary. Employers should be doing that already. And the best way to curb illegal immigration is by enforcing workplace regulations, because if illegals can’t get jobs, they won’t come here in the first place.
It should be noted that business interests are split on this issue, because some industries rely heavily on immigrant labor, including agriculture. Even the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is mostly a right-wing advocacy group, has come out in support of a state program to place some illegal immigrants in jobs in industries suffering labor shortages.
But this “show me your papers” business is another matter. It smacks of a Gestapo-style police state, and opponents seem justified in their fears it could lead to racial profiling. And many law enforcement agencies might not want to be required to check a person’s immigration status every time they pull someone over for a speeding infraction. They have real crime to fight.
The Arizona ruling hardly seems like a “green light” for anything in Kansas, and legislators will be wise to continue to balance the illegal immigration rhetoric with common sense.
— The Hutchinson News