WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced his bid for Kansas governor on Thursday.
On Friday, Eyewitness News sat down with the official in Wichita to find out some of his top issues and how he thinks the state could successfully pull itself out a budget crisis.
Kobach had two words for where he believes many problems lie - "illegal aliens".
Kobach said the state has a huge problem with undocumented immigrants and it's affecting the state's deficit.
"So, every year, Kansas government spends $424 million dollars on services and public welfare benefits that are consumed by people who are illegal aliens," said the secretary. "And we had the legislature talking about solving a $300 million dollar deficit in the state budget."
Kobach did not say where that number came from during the interview. Factfinder 12 investigators tracked down a study from 2010 that makes the same claim. The study comes from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Kobach is listed as legal counsel for a branch of FAIR.
FAIR's website describes itself, in part, as a "non-partisan organization of concerned individuals who believe that our immigration laws must be reformed." The Southern Poverty Law Center brands FAIR as an anti-immigrant extremist group with ties to white supremacists.
The study lists 133 sources as evidence dating back more than two decades. Factfinder 12 investigators are still going through those papers to find out how FAIR got those numbers. Eyewitness News has called Kobach's campaign to ask whether this study is the basis for his claim. Kobach's camp had not responded at the time this was written. Eyewitness News also reached out to other candidates in the race for governor, and had not heard back at the time this was written.
Kobach said Kansas is the only state that does nothing to discourage illegal immigration. He also pointed out the in-state tuition benefit for those who are not citizens.
"We wouldn't be in this budget problem that the legislature found themselves in if they had stopped the illegal immigration," he said.
Kobach said under his leadership as governor he would have the Kansas Highway Patrol sign an agreement to cooperate with ICE and "hand over people that they encounter that are illegal immigrants in the country."
He said he would force legislators to deal with illegal immigration and get rid of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
"We should not be giving this subsidy at taxpayer expense," said Kobach. "We should not be giving it to people breaking our laws."
As secretary of state, Kobach has cracked down on illegal immigration and made voter registration laws tougher.
Because of this, President Donald Trump offered Kobach a position in the White House and in the department of security, he said. But, the secretary said he could make a bigger difference in Kansas.
"I felt like I could just move the ball further as governor and staying in the state I love then moving to Washington D.C.," he said.
Kobach will face Wink Hartman, Carl Brewer and Josh Svaty in the 2018 governor race.