Kris Kobach: ‘Amnesties Are Always Bad Policy’; ‘Knife in the Back of Trump’s Base’

Demonstrators march during an immigration rally in support of the Deferred Action for Chil
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

“Amnesties are always bad policy,” said Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial candidate for Kansas. He described acceptance of a “DACA-style amnesty” in the absence of implementation of “extraordinary” immigration enforcement and border security measures — including ending chain migration, implementation of a national mandate for use of E-Verify by employers, and construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — as a betrayal of President Donald Trump’s promises to his base of supporters.

Kobach made his comments during a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with Breitbart News Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

Kobach expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s positioning toward legislative amnesty built around the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy: “It sounds like [Donald Trump is] open to the DACA amnesty, which is really bad policy.”

An amnesty deal could only be justified, said Kobach, if it was to “include everything the enforcement movement has wanted,” including passage of the RAISE Act, a national mandate for employer use of E-Verify, and full funding for a southern border wall. Acceptance of such an agreement, he cautioned, would still cause “damage to our economy [and] our workforce.”

“I don’t see any such deal on the horizon,” said Kobach, framing it as unlikely that amnesty legislation would yield Democratic acceptance of the aforementioned immigration enforcement measures.

“In order to justify amnesty, there would have to be so much good on the other side of the ledger, and it would have to be rock solid,” said Kobach. “And I just don’t think the Democrats are in any bargaining mood, and they’re not going to give in on the kind of things that we need.”

“Absolutely not, we don’t have to give in to [DACA-style amnesty],” said Kobach, casting Trump as having a mandate to provide border security: “If [Donald Trump] has a mandate to do anything, he has a mandate to build a wall.”

“It would be a horrible deal from the dealmaker president” to accept a DACA-style amnesty in exchange for a “paltry amount of wall funding,” said Kobach.

“We have to have that wall from sea to shining sea,” said Kobach. “Not some virtual wall that some squishy Republicans like which is nothing more than surveillance mechanisms. A real wall.”

Acceptance of a DACA-style amnesty deal without the aforementioned immigration enforcement and border security measures from Trump, said Kobach, would amount to a betrayal of the president’s base of supporters: “If he drives a knife in the back of his base by granting an amnesty without extraordinary law enforcement concessions, then I think the base is disheartened, very hard for him to get reelected, and it’s going to be harder for Republicans to win seats in the Senate.”

“The [Republican] default position must be no deal,” said Kobach.

Kobach pointed to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as illustrative of deceptive Republicans on the issue of amnesty: “Remember back when Marco Rubio was trying to sell us the Gang of Eight amnesty, and he was saying how it guarantees border security when it did nothing of the sort. We are going to have Republicans trying to sell us a bridge.”

Mansour asked Kobach about legal challenges to the parameters of any DACA-style amnesty which would expand the volume of amnestied foreigners beyond the numbers promised by such legislation’s political proponents. Partial transcript below:

MANSOUR: Now, there’s an interesting thing that’s going on here with this debate. There are suggestions that we can get some great things in negotiation, maybe we can get an “end to chain migration,” or a promise to end chain migration, or E-Verify, or funding for the wall. The one that’s most interesting to me is the suggestion that we can end what is called chain migration — the ability for any citizen to sponsor family members living abroad to come to the United States and become citizens.

This seems to me to be wishful thinking, and the reason why I say this is that in my interview with Congressman Dave Brat last Friday, I asked him if [it] was even possible to have some sort of deal that ends chain migration because, in all the past amnesties that our country has issued towards illegal immigrants, any limitation put on the illegal immigrant applicants were then litigated, and the courts would always find one loophole after another, which inevitably meant that the amnesty was practically unending and unrestricted and interpreted in the loosest way. So I don’t know how we can trust that any deal would be binding and not be litigated, and that the courts wouldn’t say, “It’s not constitutional or it’s not proper to prevent them from bringing in their families.”

As we’ve seen in the past with all these types of deals, we’re promised one thing, but the amnesty is first and the promised security measures never happen, or they’re just forgotten. Do you think, first off, is it possible to limit chain migration with a deal like this, or is that just again wishful thinking that’s not enforceable?

KOBACH: Well, at least on the face of the statute, on the face of a bill, you could limit chain migration, and the RAISE Act — which Senator Cotton has been pushing and which I think would be a great piece of legislation, that would do it — but you’re absolutely right, any wiggle room in the text of the law would be heavily litigated, and I have done much of the litigation defending our statues and defending ICE agents in cases much like the ones you describe. So you’re absolutely right, and [Dave Brat] is absolutely right. The legislation would have to be written in such an airtight manner. It’s highly unlikely that the Democrats would agree to the kind of terms that would be necessary to ensure that the RAISE Act delivers what is promised.

Just looking at the possibility of a deal, is it conceivable that there could be a deal so good that it would be worth the damage to your economy and the damage to our workforce caused by a DACA amnesty? Yeah, I suppose. It would have to be just about everything the enforcement movement has wanted: the RAISE Act, mandatory E-Verify nationwide, funding for the entire wall, not a paltry $1.6 billion but the full $21.6 billion that the Department of Homeland Security has estimated. So it would have to be everything.

“The last time we got an amnesty, we got virtually nothing in return despite the promises that were made to the Reagan administration,” said Kobach. “[We can’t] fall for the same trick again.”

Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).


Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.


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