Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Supporters of DREAM Act rally against Kobach

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Children of undocumented immigrants rallied on Tuesday, calling on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to resign and drop a lawsuit that seeks to end a program established by President Barack Obama that allows them to stay in the country.

In an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Kobach said he has no intention of doing either.

He described the group's demands as "insane."

"The audacity of some people who are illegally in the country is amazing," Kobach said. "First they demand we don't enforce our laws and then they demand that a public official who wants to enforce the laws should resign."

Several in the group tried to meet with Kobach, a Republican who has been active in passing stringent anti-illegal immigration laws in several states, but Kobach's spokeswoman met them downstairs from his office and told them that Kobach wouldn't meet with them because his schedule was full and he doesn't conduct immigration-related business while in his state office.

"We don't do any immigration issues here in this office, the secretary of state's office," said V. Kay Curtis, who took a letter from the group and said she would give it to Kobach.

Erika Andiola, a 25-year-old from Mesa, Ariz., said she wanted to urge Kobach to stick to his state job and stop interfering with policies in other states. "We are asking him to stop using his time on immigration," Andiola said.

She said her mother was arrested by police two months ago because of Arizona's SB 1070, which was co-authored by Kobach, and requires local law enforcement to attempt to determine a person's immigration status during a stop or arrest.

"My mother was taken away handcuffed right in front of me," said Andiola. She was later released after law enforcement determined that she was in the process of getting residency status, Andiola said. She said her mother was initially stopped in her car because she was apparently "too brown" to be driving.

About 50 young adults, many of whom were brought here from Mexico and other countries as children, and their supporters rallied outside Kobach's office in the Memorial Building.

They urged Kobach to drop a lawsuit he has filed on behalf of 10 federal employees that seeks to undo a directive by Obama that allows young illegal immigrants who met certain criteria be allowed to stay in the country.

To qualify, an individual must have come to the United States before they were 16 and be a student, high school graduate or military veteran. They must have also been in the country for five years, and not be considered a risk to national security or public safety.

In a statement Kobach, who was an informal immigration advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said of Obama's action, "The Directive is an extension of the DREAM Act, which was rejected by Congress, and aims to grant an amnesty to 1.7 million illegal aliens. It violates federal immigration laws that require certain aliens to be placed in removal proceedings.”

But Ernesto De La Rosa of Dodge City said Obama's directive will enable students to work and study in the United States, which they consider their home.

"We love this country and we want to contribute," he said.

The letter that De La Rosa and others gave to Kobach's office said Kobach has been an impediment "to our living out the American Dream. You have sought to rip our families apart and make our lives so miserable that we `self-deport.'"