Lawyer Leads an Immigration Fight

Kris Kobach
Allison V. Smith for The New York Times “To rigidly separate local government from federal government when we think about immigration enforcement is not only legally incorrect, it’s also bad policy,” said Kris W. Kobach.

By JULIA PRESTON in the New York Times

DALLAS — On a recent morning, Kris W. Kobach, a conservative law professor, rushed late into a federal courtroom here with his suit slightly rumpled and little more than a laptop under his arm. His mission was to persuade the judge to uphold an ordinance adopted by a Dallas suburb that would bar landlords from renting housing to illegal immigrants.


A team of lawyers from a Latino advocacy group had set up early at the opposing table, fortified with legal assistants and stacks of case documents. Unfazed, Mr. Kobach unleashed a cascade of constitutional arguments. Case names and precedents spilled out so rapidly that the judge had to order Mr. Kobach several times to slow down.

Mr. Kobach is on a dogged campaign to fight illegal immigration at the local level, riding an insurgency by cities and states fed up with what they see as federal failures on immigration. As these local governments have taken on enforcement roles once reserved for the federal government, he is emerging as their leading legal advocate.

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