Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, and I are becoming BFFs these days. First I wrote a glowing blog post about him this week and then I got to see him in person at an immigration forum hosted by the Village Square last night.
What is the Village Square? The Village Square is a non-partisan public educational forum on matters of local, state and national importance. They are dedicated to maintaining factual accuracy in civic and political debate by growing civil dialog on divisive issues, and recalling the history and principles at the foundation of our democracy.
Civil dialog? I had to check it out and see if this thing called civil dialog was even possible.
It was snowing like crazy when I left work for the event. My liberal hybrid had trouble reaching the venue. I was slipping and sliding all over the place, but NOTHING was going to keep me from seeing Mr. Kobach. I even slid into an intersection and hit a car! The woman jumped out of her car to inspect her bumper. She looked at me and I mouthed – Kobach. That’s all it took. The power of his name alone was enough. She gave me two thumbs up, jumped back into her car and we both drove away.
I finally made it to the event located at a large church. There was camera crew, a moderator and there were fact checkers. The fact checkers were there to challenge any stats that were provided during the event and make sure they were valid. They were armed with laptops and a strong internet connection. I started to sweat. I know I said I was 35. Honestly, I’m 35. They looked at me and I looked at them. Suddenly they started typing. Ok, I’m not 35, maybe I’m 39. Did I say 39? Ok, maybe I’m 40. Certainly they have more important things to fact check than my age. Jesus Christ it was hot in there. Did I say Jesus Christ out loud? Damn it, it’s a church. I’m definitely going to hell.
Moving on…..Kris Kobach was the first to speak. He gave a speech about illegal immigration and how it’s a drain on our economy. He went on and on about how illegal immigrants come to this country and milk our social services. He spoke out about illegal immigrants sending their children to our free public schools. He spoke about the meat-packing industry wages falling due to illegal immigrants.
It was amazing that I kept my composure during Kobach’s speech. I do have a confession to make. I was guilty of having multiple sargasms during this time. My eyes were in full roll mode and I caught myself sighing a number of times. I mean I’m only human. If I didn’t have those outlets I probably would have exploded right there in the church.
The counter point came from Clarissa Martinez De-Castro who gave an entertaining speech about the history of immigration to the United States. She spoke of the journey of illegal immigrants and refuted many of the points that Kobach brought up.
Finally there were two economists that focused on immigration. That’s when the program got mind-blowingly good. They pushed back on almost all of Kobach’s points. I wish they had a buzzer to ding him on his points just for effect. It’s hard to know if illegals drain our resources – why? Because they are illegal and we don’t have good facts to prove the point. Do illegal immigrants go public school? No, but their LEGAL children go to public school and they have a right to. It’s the law. Meat packing industry wages did fall- not because of illegals, but because unions were broken up and they were the reason wages were kept at a decent level. The economists were jabbing Kobach at every turn.
The end of the program just about killed me. Kobach believes that we should have selective immigration based on who provides the great benefit to this country. If you are good at math and science you are in. If you aren’t – forget it. If you are smart, you go to the front of the line. If you are not smart, sorry Charlie. The underlying racism in this thought process just about made my head spin. The worst part was the church wasn’t offering any alcohol. I had to listen to this remark stone cold sober! My suffering was real people!
I will say the crowd was amazingly civil. There were civility bells that people could ring if things got out of hand. The bells only went off twice. Once because the crowd applauded out of turn and the second time was because Kobach bashed President Obama – shocker!
Here’s my take away from the whole night. I enjoyed the program. I liked having all sides discuss the issue. What I was most shocked by (in all seriousness) is that Kris Kobach is a brilliant legal mind. He is a graduate of the Ivy League. He is one of our top constitutional lawyers in this country. What shocked me was how easy his arguments were torn apart. I may not agree with his position, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be dazzled by his brilliance. I was FAR from dazzled. Was he holding back, because he thought the audience wasn’t smart enough to follow along? Is this as good as it gets or is this really it? I left shocked and confused by him.
I plan on attending more events by the Village Square. I hope you check them out as well.