WICHITA (TNS) — Kansas Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach spoke at a pro-ICE rally in Wichita Saturday, vowing to end in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants at Kansas universities and promising to help grow the Kansas workforce by deporting “illegal aliens.”
About three weeks out from the Kansas Republican primaries, Kobach is maintaining his stance against illegal immigration, calling it a burden on the state. About 80 people attended a rally at the old County Courthouse in Wichita in support of ICE and other law enforcement. Speakers at the rally focused on illegal immigration.
Kobach blamed the “670 illegal aliens taking advantage of in-state tuition” for tuition hikes at state universities this year.
“You could have gotten rid of the tuition hike for 2018 if we weren’t giving that money to subsidize illegal aliens,” Kobach said.
He estimated charging in-state tuition instead out-of-state tuition to undocumented immigrants cost the state $4 million last year. Tuition across the state increased by $10.2 million last year and $12.9 million for the upcoming school year.
He also said deporting people who entered the country illegally will help the Kansas economy.
“It’ll fix our job security,” Kobach said. “The government doesn’t create jobs. But there is one way that government can actually affect the number of jobs: If you want to create a job for an American citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today.
“It’s a fact. Someone else will need to fill that position,” Kobach said.
Wink Hartman, Kobach’s running mate, challenged the notion that Kobach is a single-issue candidate too focused on immigration, and pointed to taxes and the economy. He said illegal immigration damages the Kansas economy, which is further damaged by taxes.
“It is all connected,” Hartman said.
Hartman said claims about the stagnant economy in Wichita, like those made in a recent visit by analyst James Chung, can be traced to the failed policies of former-Governor Sam Brownback, and that undocumented immigrants would not fix the workforce shortage.
“I’m concerned about Kansans,” Hartman said. “I’m concerned about the workforce in Kansas and that American citizens have the opportunities to have the jobs, to reach the goals that their families desire.
“The governor’s office has neglected to grow the Kansas economy, and thus has been unable to provide jobs to build the workforce,” Hartman said.
State Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) said it's time for the “silent majority” to stop being silent.
“What we’ve got to get across to people is that pro-law enforcement is not pro-anti-civil rights,” Masterson said.
“To oppose ICE is insanity,” Masterson said. “We are the majority. Don’t be silent. We need to stand up. Don’t let the intolerant haters that reside on the left keep you from public debate.”
Most of the speakers referenced recent ICE protests across the nation. The rally came a week after a group of protestors camped out in front of an ICE facility in Wichita for several days before demanding a bipartisan group of lawmakers be allowed to tour the facility.
Andy Hooser, event organizer and radio host of “The Voice of Reason” on station KQAM, said he was encouraged by the turnout. He said the point of the rally, titled “Making America Great Again,” was not one of racism or bigotry, but was to give a voice to those who feel left out of the public discussion.
Hooser said he wanted the rally to be a message of positivity, in contrast to what he said is a divisive message coming from the left.
“I mean, how many Tide pods does a person have to eat to think it’s a good idea to abolish ICE?” Hooser said.
A group of three protesters held signs and shouted rebuttals from a shady spot across Main Street in front of the county courthouse.
Bill Anderson, one of the protestors, said the message of positivity was a disguise for ignoring facts that challenge notions of white privilege.
Anderson called the almost-all white crowd that showed up for the rally “blind” to their own white privilege, and that was the reason he decided to show up to the rally.
“I didn’t want to give them any more attention, but someone has to call them on their bull,” Anderson said.
Kobach, who received the brunt of Anderson’s shouting, pointed to the protestors as “snowflakes” who express “fake outrage.”
“I want them mad,” State Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita) said of the protestors. “We need them mad so that we need to make sure we’re more energized than they are.”