Donald Trump is looking for an immigration czar who shares his passion for subjecting migrants to cruel and unusual punishments, his fears of a browning electorate, and his indifference to the rule of law. Kris Kobach is looking for a new job. On paper, it looks like a match made in The Hague.
After all, Kobach was fomenting authoritarian nativism back when Trump was still teaching business to Gary Busey. The former Kansas secretary of state was an adviser to Maricopa County sheriff (and serial criminal) Joe Arpaio in Arizona, and authored the infamous law that empowered police officers in that state to demand the citizenship papers of anyone who looked like an undocumented immigrant, in their professional (and predominately white) opinions. Since then, Kobach served a brief stint on Trump’s voter fraud commission, which tried and failed to generate new rationalizations for voter suppression, and proved too reactionary to win a gubernatorial race in deep-red Kansas.
All this said, it’s possible that Kobach and Trump are a bit too well-matched: The former doesn’t merely share the president’s rabid, lawless xenophobia, but also his taste for graft and self-aggrandizement. According to the New York Times, Kobach recently gave the White House a list of his ten conditions for accepting the position of immigration czar. They are as follows:
1. Office in the West Wing.
2. Walk-in privileges with the president.
3. Assistant to the President rank - at highest pay level for WH senior staff.
4. Staff of 7 people (2 attorneys, 2 research analysts, 1 scheduler, 1 media person, 1 assistant).
5. POTUS sits down individually with Czar and the secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Ag, Interior, and Commerce, and tells each of the Secretaries to follow the directives of the Czar without delay, subject to appeal to the President in cases of disagreement.
6. 24/7 access to either a DHS or DOD jet. Czar must be on the border every week.
7. Ability to spend weekends in KS with family on way from border back to DC, unless POTUS needs Czar elsewhere.
8. Security detail if deemed necessary after security review.
9. Serve as the face of Trump immigration policy - the principal spokesman on television and in the media.
10. Promise that by November 1, 2019, the president will nominate Kris Kobach to be DHS Secretary, unless Kobach wishes to continue in Czar position.
Following this report, White House officials informed Intelligencer Tuesday morning that Kobach had actually issued 15 demands (the Times had only obtained the first page of the relevant document)*. Among the would-be czar’s other requests:
11. POTUS sits down individually with Czar and the secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Ag, Interior, and Commerce for weekly game of Monopoly, and tells each of the Secretaries that the Czar has dibs on playing as the Top Hat, without delay, subject to appeal to the President in cases of disagreement.
12. Secondary office with Staff of 11 (2 longtime partners in crime, 1 former casino owner, 1 talented young pickpocket, 1 electronics and surveillance expert, 2 gifted mechanics, 1 explosives specialist, 1 elderly con man, and 1 accomplished acrobat).
13. Promise that by April 5, 2032, president will nominate Kris Kobach to be Chief Magistrate of the Mars Territory.
14. Replace Robert Pattinson with Christian Bale in Matt Reeves’s upcoming The Batman.
15. Prima Nocta privileges in all U.S. states that border Mexico.
Kobach drives a hard bargain for a man who face-planted in his last White House gig. (And in fact, the latest reports say Trump is going with former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.) But you have to admire Kobach’s audacity — and take some comfort in the fact that the venality and corruption that makes the conservative movement in the U.S. so vile also makes it a bit less effective at fomenting white racial paranoia and entrenching plutocracy.
*This is a lie.