Non-profit CEO says two Kansas bills are adding to already immense fear that local immigrants feel

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Children are going without the food and healthcare they need right here in the metro. That's according to a long-time non-profit group that helps immigrant families. It's over two new bills right now before Kansas lawmakers.

"We almost feel helpless."

John Fierro is the president and CEO of Maddie Rhodes Center, a metro non-profit organization that helps immigrant families in the metro area. He says two new Kansas bills are adding to the already immense fear that local immigrants feel.

"Kids are going hungry. Going without healthcare, because their parents are fearful if they go apply, they're gonna be deported," Fierro said.

The bills would enlist state and local officers to enforce federal immigration law, specifically calling on the Kansas State highway patrol. Fierro says this will draw a line between law enforcement and the community, making people in Latino communities too scared to go to police for help.

"With this type of legislation, now people are gonna be even fearful and distrusting of law enforcement."

KHP spoke in reaction the bills this week, saying they never consulted about the legislation and that they simply do not have the resources to enforce federal immigration.

"When you enact this type of legislation and impose greater responsibilities on a state trooper department that is already under funded, well that just doesn't make good business sense, nor does it make good government sense."

Fierro says he has seen a huge increase in fear among immigrant families on the Kansas side. Most families are not too scared to even leave their homes. He understands punishment for undocumented immigrants, but wishes instead of deporting them and ripping families apart, they could get some help.

"Give them the path of giving them the option of living in the country legally, so that they are no longer living in fear and so that they can contribute to this country that we all love."

Both bills come from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. We asked his office for comment, our calls were not returned.

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