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A lawyer behind Arizona's illegal-immigration law -- and a cop who wants to stop it

Let us introduce you to two compelling characters linked to Arizona’s new tough law on illegal immigration. One, a law professor, helped write it. The other, a Tucson police officer, wants to fight it.

As most folks know — or at least those who’ve read a newspaper or watched television in the last month -- the law allows police to demand immigration papers from suspected illegal immigrants and to detain them if they can’t produce documents.

The profiles of the professor and the officer make for intriguing reading — up-close views of how the law came into existence and how one lawman views its possible bad effects.

The professor is Kris Kobach, at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, who is a little-known but key force in efforts to fight illegal immigration. As our colleague Anna Gorman writes in Thursday’s Times:Kris Kobach

Kobach, 44, is an Ivy League-educated, outspoken advocate for the movement to fight illegal immigration and the go-to guy for cities and states looking to pass laws against it. He is counsel on nine ongoing cases around the country, including in California, targeting sanctuary cities and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and defending the right of cities to prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and employers from hiring them.

Kobach said he is motivated by a desire to “restore the rule of law” in immigration and to show that states and cities can do their part to help the federal government with enforcement.

“People act like the law can't be followed in immigration,” he said. “I take it as a challenge to show that it can.”

Then there is Martin Escobar, the Tucson police officer. In her profile of Escobar, our colleague Paloma Esquivel shared this anecdote from his youth:

Martin EscobarEscobar had wanted to be a police officer since he was a fourth-grader growing up in Tucson and watching “Adam-12” on TV.

An immigrant from Sonora, Mexico, whose family struggled for many years, he wanted to be respected and admired, he said, as were the men in uniform on the show.

The feeling stuck, even after he was stopped by Border Patrol officers in his neighborhood and asked about his immigration status when he was in middle school.

“I can still remember the street where it happened,” he said. “They stopped me and started asking me what my legal status was. It scared the heck out of me. I was thinking, 'How am I going to prove that I'm here legally?' That's the experience I felt, being afraid, wondering, 'Have I done anything wrong?' "

Follow this link for the profile on Kobach.

Follow this link for the profile on Escobar.

-- Steve Padilla

Top photo: Kris Kobach. Credit: Associated Press. Bottom photo: Martin Escobar. Credit: James Clegg.

Comments () | Archives (8)

The comments to this entry are closed.

There seems to be a disconnect between the folks struggling through the 12.6% unemployment and overextended communities with overcrowded schools, jails, hospitals and those who just want an open border.

Let me guess, if you're latino, you want all the hoards of illegal immigrants here, what a surprise. I guess you don't care if your suburban community looks like TJ or if gangs are shooting at each other every night. Cars parked on the front lawn don't bother you and if every job in the community requires you speak Spanish, that's okay too.

Well, if you really want that, why did you leave Mexico in the first place? Certainly not to embrace the culture of American values. Seems you just want to import the poverty and strife from Mexico and bring it here. With so many corrupt latino politicians, it's easy to take the next leap into total political corruption, you're almost home. The question is, where will the American citizens call home?

We are to BOYCOTT all of sunny California products beginning May 13, 2010. May you state go broke.

I am a 65 Yr Cal resident. I not only approve of the AZ Immigration , but want the same laws written in Cal and every other state too.
Those who call a law that passed illegal are mostly illegal themselves by being here without going through the process like immigrants from other countries who had to wait for the process to work
Send them back....and the true Americans will take the jobs that are left.

I am announcing my boycott of LOS ANGELES. We are cancelling a 3 day baseball trip to Dodger stadium,
along with a separate trip for a concert in mid-summer. I wonder if L.A. city council realizes that ALOT
of Arizona folks visit L.A. every summer to escape the heat, and bring them alot of tourism revenue.
Actually I should say, we "used to" visit L.A., but not anymore.

Also I have a legal question.

I am a legal resident of Arizona. This question pertains to legal Arizona residents who intend to hire an
individual or contractor to perform work on their house.

Here’s a legal question. Any AZ lawyers out there?

The AZ law states –> After December 31, 2007, every employer, after hiring an employee, shall verify the
employment eligibility of the employee through the e-verify program AND SHALL KEEP A RECORD OF THE VERIFICATION

As a homeowner hiring a person or contractor to perform work on my house, do we have the legal right to request
the contractor to produce their E-Verify records?… which would of course demonstrate to us that they have or
have not complied with the law. If we are hiring an individual, do we have the legal right to request proof
that they are legal to work in the USA? If so, what documentation would prove their legality to work here
and be hired? I am wondering if we have the legal right to make such a request, and is the contractor required
by law to produce them in Arizona? Also… if the contracting company or individual that we want to hire cannot produce
such documentation, is this reasonable cause to suspect that the person is illegal? If so, would we be able to legally file a complaint with the AZ police based on ‘reasonable cause’ as defined in the new AZ law SB1070?

Let me see if I understand correctly, California wants to keep all the illegals and now are going to layoff 300 police officers that deal with gang violence. The gang violence is done by the majority of the American citizens? You all need to pull your head out of the a@# and get real. We will lay off the defense in LA so we can keep supporting illegal aliens? What a bunch of crack heads make these socialized decisions?

What is it that leftys do not understand about ILLEGAL ?And what is the effect
on state's budgets that results from our failure to enforce our immigration
laws ?Weakness invites chaos.

The law is strict but it is the law !Are we a country of laws where only citizens
are held to obey theese laws or should aliens wishing to immigrate here be able
to do so on their own terms ?

Good lawyers are elected to make good laws and good cops enforce the laws...that is the
essence of democracy.Our problem has to do with wishy washy and hopy
changy political dwarfs who sabotage the process and in this particular case
of illegal imigrants,refuse to prosecute the offenders and give lip service to
securing our borders.Paloma Esquivel's tear jerking anecdotes
totally irrelevant in this context.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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