We told you earlier that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has doubled down on his defiance of the federal government, announcing that he’ll train his deputies to enforce federal immigration law. This comes after 100 of those deputies were stripped by the Department of Homeland Security of their power to make immigration arrests, and as a federal probe of Arpaio’s controversial tactics heats up.
But it looks like that’s just the half of it. To run the new training program, Arpaio has turned to a controversial former Bush Justice Department official and Republican operative who specializes in crafting local laws designed to go after those who harbor illegal immigrants.
The sheriff has turned to Kris Kobach, a law professor at the Universoty of Misssouri — Kansas City, reports the Arizona Republic. Kobach, who serves as chair of the Kansas GOP, was John Ashcroft’s top immigration adviser at the Justice Department, leading a program designed to tighten border security after 9/11. Kobach’s program, which included close observance of Arab and Muslim men, even legal U.S. residents, fell apart complaints of racial profiling and discrimination, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Since then, Kobach has become a frequent media spokesman for the anti-illegal-immigration cause. He has also worked as a lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-illegal immigration organization that SPLC lists as a nativist hate group. As part of his work for FAIR, Kobach crafted local laws for towns including Hazelton, Penn. and Farmer’s Branch, Texas, designed to crack down on citizens who rented property to illegal immigrants. The Hazelton law was struck down by a federal judge in 2007.
The good-looking, well-spoken Kobach, who has a law degree from Yale, was once seen as a rising Republican star. He was given a speaking slot at the Republican convention in 2004, and called for the U.S. military to be sent to the Mexican border to enforce security. That same year, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress. During the campaign, according to SPLC, he accused his Democratic opponent of associating with groups that support “homosexual pedophilia” — a reference to the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream gay-rights group.
In other words, Kobach sounds like just Arpaio’s kind of guy. And sure enough, Arpaio told reporters he didn’t know who had put up the money to bring Kobach to Maricopa County, but “I’d pay his way if I had to.”
Kobach isn’t the only lawyer from the Bush DOJ that Arpaio has brought in. As we reported, the sheriff has hired Bob Driscoll, who served under Ashcroft as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to slow-roll the federal probe that’s looking into Arpaio’s immigration enforcement tactics and the alleged politicization of his office.
And he was thwarted last year in a bid to bring in the heavy-hitting Beltway GOP power-couple Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing to build criminal cases against local figures with whom he has clashed.
Late Update: Kobach hasn’t given up his quest for elected office. He’s now a candidate in the GOP primary for Kansas Secretary of State.