Well, that didn't take long at all: Less than two months into his tenure as Kansas secretary of state, illegal-immigration crusader Kris Kobach has already helped state lawmakers draft a knockoff of Arizona's controversial immigration bill.
Remember yesterday, when we told you how the Republicans' stronghold in Topeka meant certain and swift death for the recently introduced medical-marijuana bill? This is just like that, only the exact opposite.
The bill is being drafted by "influential" Rep. Lance Kinzer, a Republican from Olathe and the chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, the Associated Press reported this morning. But Kobach is unsurprisingly in the mix, helping legislators tailor the bill to Kansas and, through his powers of square-jawed seduction, putting the bill in position to survive the Legislature, gain support in the polls and eventually get signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
"Support for an SB 1070-style bill in Kansas is every bit as strong as in Arizona, if not even more so," Kobach told me this morning. He said the bill will be introduced in the House today, and that the odds of it eventually passing are "very high."
Kobach said he's been working with Kinzer and other lawmakers on a statewide immigration bill since at least 2007. This bill will include many pieces of previous years' legislation but will also include "most of the provisions" of Arizona's bill. Those include requiring local and state law enforcement, during the course of a routine investigation or arrest, to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being undocumented. The bill would also make illegal immigration a state crime.
Kobach has been helping lawmakers here and around the country draft bills targeting illegal immigrants for years. His job as secretary of state has only made it easier for him to work with Kansas lawmakers, he said, because he spends so much time in Topeka and in the Capitol.
And according to him, the Legislature there has a mandate to get aggressive on illegal immigration. During the rancor over SB 1070, Kansans "made it very clear to legislators that they would like to see similar legislation in Kansas," Kobach said.
We're about to find out whether he's right.