Re: Arizona, Mother Jones's MoJo Not Working So Well

Mother Jones prides itself on “smart, fearless journalism.”

So, let’s see how MoJo did with a recent profile of Kris Kobach, University of Missouri/Kansas City law professor and Republican candidate for Kansas’s secretary of state position, who was described in the headline as “the man behind Arizona’s immigration law.”

Kobach is an experienced immigration litigator, involved in several high-profile cases over the past few years. (See Hazleton, Farmers Branch, etc). But he’s no legal puppeteer, as the headline implies. He is merely the lawyer who helped draft S.B. 1070.


… Kobach advanced an idea that had long been circulating in conservative legal circles: that local and state officials have the “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws. This unorthodox notion bucked the prevailing view–long held by both Republican and Democratic administrations–that the federal government has principal jurisdiction over immigration under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. If local and state governments were to strike out on their own, they could undermine federal efforts, create the potential for draconian crackdowns, and detract from law enforcement efforts by discouraging immigrants from cooperating with police, critics argue. In 2002, however, Ashcroft’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memo, which Kobach contributed to, supporting the “inherent authority” theory.

Now enter MoJo‘s Suzy Khimm, author of the “you know you’ve lost the debate when the shrill name-calling goes on and on and on” piece about Kobach. Several questions for Khimm…

  • Why/how is S.B. 1070 (or any other bill like it) “anti-immigration,” since it in no way limits or is opposed to legal, orderly immigration, but merely seeks to protects U.S. citizens and legal residents against illegal immigrants’ actions? (Smart journalism? No. Misleading? You betcha.)

  • Why do you describe NumbersUSA as an “anti-immigrant group”? Is it because they advocate for lower, reasonable levels of legal immigration? (Again, inaccurate.)

  • You say that Kobach has helped develop “the legal framework that a growing number of state and local officials have used to justify anti-immigration proposals.” You cite none. In fact, I’m sure there are none. And there’s that incendiary “anti-immigration” phrase again. Tsk. Tsk. (Can’t support your point? Don’t make it. Not smart.)

  • Why, when citing attackers of Kobach’s work in your piece (the ACLU, ‘critics’ of his efforts, ‘liberal immigration advocates,’ and ‘Kobach’s opponents’), do you not use not use descriptive adjectives like “unreasonable” or “law-snubbing” or “anti-Christian”? But Sheriff Joe Arpaio is “now-infamous” (try “famous”!)? Michelle Malkin and Tom Tancredo “routinely inflame the right-wing base”? (Not fearless on your part, by any means.)

  • Why bring up Kobach’s contacts with others working on the same anti-illegal immigration cause? What’s the point? So what if the Federation for American Immigration Reform hires him, or John Ashcroft, or Maricopa County, or victims of illegal-immigrant actions? If guilty by association, what can we conclude about Michael Moore being a past editor of MoJo? (C’mon.)


None of the above, of course, amounted to a factual, serious discussion as to why S.B. 1070 might have become law, and why a majority of Arizona voters approve of its content. Maybe that has to do with the fact that, of the 46,000 criminals that Phoenix police officers booked into the Maricopa County jail in 2007 (run by Joe “Infamous” Arapaio), more than 6,000 arrestees were identified as being in the United States illegally. That’s one-in-seven too many criminals. Or, maybe Arizonans are tired of spending over $800 million educating illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children, which is equivalent to 10.5% of total statewide K-12 spending. (Thank MALDEF for the role they played in that budget buster.) Or why Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, even at such a caliente point in the debate, still has to politely request that the National Guard be immediately deployed to the southern border.

How frequently has your congressional rep asked for that kind of assistance?

Due to illegal immigration, it’s one crisis after another in the Grand Canyon State, and those complex problems won’t be resolved overnight. Some, likely never. But the real story is that the heroic Kris Kobach used his expertise to provide a little legal aid to the burned-out citizens of Arizona.

As for Mother Jones’ grade for fearlessness – D.

Fecklessness? A.