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"I hope the fire chief in Overland Park isn't a Democrat," jokes Chris Stigall, the conservative talk-show host and the evening's master of ceremonies.
After an opening speaker — an Ecuadorean immigrant named Angelo Miño who has joined forces with the anti-illegal movement — Stigall introduces Kobach. The banner that hangs over Kobach's head reiterates his run for secretary of state, but Kobach will make no mention of his campaign in his speech. This crowd has come to hear about Arizona, about The Law, and about spreading the sheriff's "attrition through enforcement" approach to ridding America of illegal immigrants.
They get what they've come for. Kobach tells them that S.B. 1070 "is built like a tank" and assures victory against the ACLU and the Obama administration. There is no mention of paths to citizenship, of middle ground to tread. There are illegals, and they must go.
"We love immigrants who come and learn English and want to assimilate," he says, setting up one of several standing ovations. "We even love the illegal aliens. But we'd really love it if they'd pack their bags and go home!"
He backfills the bombast with cold, somewhat flimsy facts. He cites a report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that claims illegal immigration costs the U.S. economy $82 billion a year, but he leaves unmentioned that the true cost is unknown — and how some economists argue that illegal immigration actually provides a net boost to the economy.
He also claims that Phoenix now has the world's second-highest kidnapping rate, with more than 200 every year — a statistic he blames on the state's place at the center of the human- and drug-trafficking trades. But this Phoenix-as-Mogadishu tale, a recent favorite of Sen. John McCain, isn't nearly as scary as advertised. While the city does see its share of kidnappings, its own police department has debunked Kobach's myth.
"The media created that," Sgt. Tommy Thompson told the Arizona Republic this year. "People started running with it without any factual basis." In fact, he said, kidnappings are now dropping.
But that doesn't stop Kobach, who fires his hyperbole into the crowd like a stale hot dog from an air cannon. Then, to make sure the issue hits home, he estimates that Phoenix's metro area is about twice the size of Kansas City's, and he fantasizes about a Kansas City with 100-plus kidnappings a year.
"People wouldn't just be conceal-carrying, they'd be open-carrying," he says, slyly slipping his NRA rating into his localized portrait of chaos.
Kobach then launches into a complaint about how illegal immigration has been hijacked and polarized, and made to seem as if there are only two options: amnesty for everyone or deportation for everyone.
"There's a third option," he says. "There's a rational option. The rational option is that you ratchet up enforcement and people self-deport!"
There is no fourth option.
Eventually, after powering through the bomb scare, which turned out to be an unattended briefcase, Kobach passes the mic to Arpaio.
"I don't like to use the word hero," Arpaio says. "But you have one here."
He picks up where he left off outside, boasting about the DOJ investigation and the "only female chain gang in the world." And, of course, those tents. The 17th anniversary of the tents is this month, he muses, coinciding nicely with the Kobach-penned S.B. 1070 taking effect. "I'm going to get an extra set of tents for this new law," he says.
That his newest inmates will arrive in the middle of summer only makes the timing more perfect.