Kris Kobach takes immigration debate to Roeland Park amid city’s non-cooperation policy

ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, currently running for U.S. Senate, accused city leaders in Roeland Park of creating a so-called "sanctuary city" following a city council workshop Monday night.

Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris articulated his long-standing policy on immigration enforcement into a written document and entered it into the public record on Monday.

Morris said, except in cases where there is a threat to public safety or a court order, his department is not equipped to assist ICE with large-scale immigration raids.

“We are not calling in officers overtime to go to round-ups,” Morris told city leaders Monday night. “We are not paying overtime or resources to do surveillance. We’re not having to buy new equipment. That’s not our function.”

“We don’t go out looking for immigrants. That’s not our job. My job is to protect you and your children, the community of Roeland Park. We’re not out hunting down illegal immigrants. That’s not our job.”

On Tuesday, Kobach, flanked by some citizens of Roeland Park, traveled to the city to criticize its position on immigration enforcement.

“If they are not going to assist the federal government in removing dangerous illegal aliens from the streets of our country then they should not be entitled to any federal funds,” Kobach said.

“And if they’re going to break federal law, as the city of Roland Park is now doing, breaking federal law, then the city should not be entitled to federal funds.”

Adding the newly written policy on immigration enforcement didn't require a vote by the city council on Monday, city officials explain, because it’s simply an articulation of longstanding police practices in Roeland Park.

In an emailed statement, Roeland Park City Administrator Keith Moody added:

"If the Roeland Park Police Department is contacted by ICE or any other federal law enforcement officer regarding the criminal activity of someone who may or may not be legally present in the United States, but no official criminal warrant has been issued, the Chief of Police or a supervisor will consider, among other things, the alleged criminal conduct, the amount of evidence the immigration official has against such person, the impact on public safety, the impact to the individual or other affected parties and the risk that  communication will impact future cooperation with police by immigrant communities."

Kobach, a well-known advocate for strict immigration laws, urged the Roeland Park City Council to vote on the immigration enforcement policy.

“This is something that affects the people of Roeland Park and affects all people of the Kansas City metro area,” Kobach said. “So for this to be done surreptitiously or done by police directive without the citizens having any influence or any say in this, I think is wrong."

"Let the representatives of the people of Roeland Park decide whether or not they want to be a sanctuary city or not," he said.

Morris did not respond to FOX4's repeated emails on Tuesday but repeatedly made the case on Monday night that his small department is not equipped to assist large-scale ICE enforcement operations.

“We are not immigration officers. Can we assist? Depends on the scope of what kind of assistance they need,” Morris said.

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