For those working to halt illegal immigration, Kobachs leadership role is unmistakable and irreplaceable.
God forbid he ever gets hit by a Mack truck or something. From our point of view, it would change the course of history, said Mike Hethmon, general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which employs Kobach on the side and sees its job as protecting Americans from uncontrolled illegal immigration.
Hes at the forefront of leading our nation on immigration reform, agreed U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican and the former mayor of Hazleton, Pa., who worked with Kobach on drafting tougher laws controlling illegal immigration.
As an immigration lawyer, Kobach gets high praise from the officials who have worked with him in other states, including former state Sen. Russell Pearce of Arizona.
Hes national hero in my book for helping us to get this stuff passed and introduced in states all over America, said Pearce, who co-wrote the law but was recalled by voters last year in part because of his work for the measure.
To be sure, Kobach has plenty of detractors who believe his efforts to defend immigration laws stir racial unrest at taxpayer expense. Hes been derisively portrayed in headlines as Americas Deporter-in-Chief, an anti-immigration hawk, and a nativist lawyer.
He definitely is very focused on putting forth at the local and state level anti-immigrant proposals that seem to be progressively more punitive and more and more repressive, said Clarissa Martinez, director of immigration at the National Council of La Raza.
From our perspective, it just seems he is more interested in pursuing the scorched-Earth, anti-immigrant tactics that he believes in than in the well-being economic or otherwise of the jurisdictions that follow his misguided lead on these issues, Martinez added.
Kobach strenuously rebuts charges that hes driven by racism, calling them absurd.
Our immigration laws are designed to protect people of all races so that everybody comes to this country under the same rules regardless of what skin color you have, Kobach said. Its a superficial argument that people are making and they are doing it because they dont have anything left to say.
Kobach has been involved with at least six cities and states that have drafted new laws intended to combat illegal immigration. So far, hes had mixed results in court.
Hes lost cases in Kansas and California seeking to strike down laws that offer in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants. But he helped the St. Louis suburb of Valley Park successfully defend a law banning employers from hiring illegals.
And he was on the winning side when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that punished employers for hiring undocumented immigrants, which opened the door for other cities and states to enact similar laws.
During this years Kansas legislative session, Kobach faced critics at home, especially as he has pushed to move up the date when the state begins requiring those registering to vote to show proof of citizenship.
Even as he testified in favor of tougher controls on illegal immigration in front of a House committee earlier this year in Topeka, hundreds outside the Capitol could be heard chanting and banging on drums in protest of some of the very policies he was advocating inside.