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Kris W. Kobach

Daniel L. Brenner/UMKC Scholar and Professor of Law; A.B. (Harvard University); Ph.D., M.Phil. (Oxford University); J.D. (Yale School of Law)

  Professor Kobach received his bachelor of arts degree with highest distinction from Harvard University in 1988. He graduated at the top of his class in the Harvard Government Department. In 1988, the British government awarded him a Marshall Scholarship, which took him to England for post-graduate study. In 1992 he received his doctorate in Political Science from Oxford University. In 1995 he received his J.D. from Yale Law School. While at Yale, he taught undergraduates in the Yale Political Science Department, and in 1994 he won the Prize Teaching Fellowship, an award based on student nominations and faculty review. He also served as notes development editor on the Yale Law Journal.

Professor Kobach was admitted to the Kansas Bar in 1995 and served as a law clerk to Judge Deanell Reece Tacha of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in 1995-1996. He joined the UMKC School of Law faculty in 1996. He has published two books, The Referendum: Direct Democracy in Switzerland (Dartmouth, 1994), and Political Capital: The Motives, Tactics, and Goals of Politicized Businesses in South Africa (University Press of America, 1990). He has also published numerous articles in political science, constitutional law, immigration law, and legal history.

In 2001, Professor Kobach was awarded a White House Fellowship, which took him to Washington, DC, to work for the Bush Administration in the office of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. After his fellowship year ended, the Attorney General asked Kobach to stay on as his Counsel.  In that capacity, Professor Kobach served as the Attorney General’s chief adviser on immigration law and border security.

After the 9/11 attacks, Kobach was put in charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security and return the rule of law to immigration. He led the team that designed and implemented the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which registers and fingerprints high-risk visitors to the United States. Within its first year of operation, the registration system resulted in the apprehension of numerous suspected terrorists. Professor Kobach also led Department of Justice reforms of the immigration court system, resulting in the reshaping of the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2002.  He left the Justice Department and returned to teaching law in July 2003.

Professor Kobach has litigated a number of high-profile lawsuits in the field of immigration.  He is lead attorney representing the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in its defense of an ordinance that prohibits the employment of unauthorized aliens by businesses and prohibits the harboring of illegal aliens by landlords.  He also represents U.S. citizen students challenging state policies that grant resident tuition rates to illegal aliens in Kansas and California.  He is Senior Counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a Washington, DC-based legal advocacy organization that represents U.S. citizens in immigration-related cases across the country

Professor Kobach has testified before Congress on eight occasions.  He is a regular guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN), The O’Reilly Factor (FOX News Channel), and MSNBC News, most often discussing U.S. immigration policy.  He is also a frequent columnist for the New York Post and the Washington Times.  He and his wife, Heather, have two daughters, Lilly and Reagan.

Professor Kobach teaches Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, Immigration Law, American Legal History, and Legislation.

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