Mr. Kobach, a graduate of Harvard, Oxford and Yale Law School, served as Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 until January. While in that job, he was picked by Mr. Trump to lead a voter fraud commission after the president insisted that the 2016 election was marred by millions of illegal votes.
The commission was disbanded in 2018, with one expert on election law, Richard L. Hasen, describing its chairman as “a leader nationally in making irresponsible claims that voter fraud is a major problem in this country.”
The same year, Mr. Kobach, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, also ran for governor, losing to a Democrat, Laura Kelly. He lost a race for the House in 2004.
The list underscores the clout Mr. Kobach hopes to have in a job that would not require Senate confirmation, but could drive Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda. One of its main objectives was to minimize the influence of cabinet officials, who have at times been targets of Mr. Trump’s ire, or have jostled for his ear.
After Kirstjen Nielsen, the former homeland security secretary, resigned in April, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Kobach about the possibility of succeeding her. Mr. Kobach, according to people familiar with the meeting, brought with him a detailed plan to crack down on asylum seekers entering the country. He told Mr. Trump that the only way for him to complete the mission was to be able to fly down to the border at a moment’s notice.
At the time, Mr. Trump was convinced that Mr. Kobach would have a hard time winning Senate confirmation for the position, and the two discussed the possible creation of an immigration czar.
He has yet to make a decision. And Mr. Kobach is also considering running for the Kansas Senate seat being vacated by Pat Roberts, a Republican. National Republicans, concerned about his hard-line positions, are hoping to keep him from winning the party’s nomination if he does run.