In a retaliatory move, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt pushed for a ban on sanctuary cities in the state.
After the Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County started issuing municipal ID cards to undocumented residents, Attorney General Derek Schmidt pushed to ban all ‘sanctuary cities’ in the state. According to many immigration advocates, if this policy change succeeds, it will have ‘insidious effects’.
The goal of this legislation would be to prohibit municipal governments the adoption of rules that might block cooperation with federal agencies that persecute undocumented residents like ICE. However, Schmidt maintains that this legislation is the only pathway toward ensuring that the state is ‘safe and welcoming to immigrants’.
Local government looking to maximize access to public services through ID program for undocumented residents
The government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County recently began authorizing the issuance of ID cards to undocumented residents in order to improve general access to public services in the local population through legislation called The Safe and Welcoming City Act. This legislation also ensured that ID information gathered through the program wouldn’t be shared with federal agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
This led Attorney General Derek Schmidt to push for a ban on any sanctuary laws that might hinder the work of federal agencies. However, the legislation faced outnumbering opposition during a hearing last Tuesday in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Many opponents of the measure, like Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, lead coordinator for the New Frontiers Project, remarked that a ban like this could have very damaging effects to whole migrant communities because even if the bill only targets legal immigrants, many families with mixed-status would suffer the consequences.
“It should be clear to you now that this is not a game. The choices you make as a legislator have very real impacts on the lives of people like me and my family. Listen to us when we tell you this will have insidious effects on crime reporting in immigrant communities. Listen to us when we tell you that your decisions don’t exist in a vacuum.”Rangel-Lopez said.
What does the ban on ‘sanctuary cities’ aim to prohibit exactly?
Under the House Bill 2717, local units of government would be barred from adopting any “ordinance, resolution, rule or policy” that might interfere with federal law enforcement investigations or cooperation between local and federal agencies. This measure would also prohibit municipal governments from issuing any kind of ID cards to undocumented residents.
12 other states have already enacted similar state-level laws banning or restricting sanctuary laws that protect undocumented residents. Kansas Legislature has previously considered legislation to prohibit sanctuary laws and cities in the state on several occasions, but until now, none has passed.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is a Republican candidate for governor, stated that Kansas needed such a law to make sure the entire state is safe and welcoming to immigrants.
“That worthy goal cannot be properly accomplished through a patchwork process of local jurisdictions deciding to prohibit their local law enforcement agencies from cooperating or even communicating with federal authorities, nor can that be accomplished by issuing to non-citizens new local-government identification cards that lack basic anti-fraud and anti-abuse safeguards built into state law.”Schmidt said.
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