President Obama must not be very serious about immigration reform because the proposal outlined over the weekend is out of touch with sentiments in the U.S. House and with the American public, said Kris Kobach, one of the nation’s leading anti-illegal immigration advocates and Kansas’ secretary of state.
“Instead of going for limited reform, he’s asking for the full monty,” Kobach told The Eagle on Monday.
Kobach said he thinks the proposal, which calls for a path to citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, is set up to divide Congress into groups for and against amnesty to make Democrats look like champions of an important voter block – Hispanics.
Hispanics proved to be a key demographic in Obama’s victory in November over Republican Mitt Romney, and many Democrats have urged Obama to seize on the opportunity to push for a massive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.
Reports over the weekend said Obama’s plan would require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes and other fines while also adding more visas and creating a guest-worker program. It also would require employers to verify the legal status of new workers.
Kobach agrees with verifying the legal status of workers, but he said allowing a path to citizenship could add more than $2 trillion to the nation’s debt if illegal immigrants become eligible for Medicaid, Medicare and other benefits.
He acknowledged illegal immigrants would be paying taxes, but he said because many of them are low-skill workers it wouldn’t make up for the additional costs.
“You’re basically giving citizenship to people who will be a fiscal drag on the economy,” he said.