TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has signed a bill banning “Sanctuary Cities” into law on Monday.
The bill, HB 2717, was introduced on behalf of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in February, and quickly moved through the Legislature after a round of hearings. However, it received strong opposition from residents and lawmakers of Wyandotte county, which recently passed a county ordinance protecting immigrants in the area.
Kelly addressed the signing of the bill by saying that the U.S.’s “broken immigration system” cannot be fixed at the municipal level and will need a solution soon from Congress.
“Kansans who rely on local government IDs to vote, such as veterans, the elderly, and people with disabilities will be adversely affected by this law,” Kelly said. “The Legislature needs to send me a trailer bill that ensures these folks can continue participating in our democracy.”
The signing of the bill brought out strong reactions from different organizations in Kansas. The Director of Voter Engagement for a social justice organization based out of Kansas City called MORE2, called the signing of the bill “a failure of leadership, an act of political cowardice, and a moral betrayal.”
“We don’t need politicians to save us,” said Marcus Winn. “We don’t need any elected official’s charity or pity. We do, however, expect them to be accountable to the people and values of Kansas. HB 2717 violates those values and puts at risk tens of thousands of Kansas families.”
Schmidt released the following statement in regards to the signing of HB 2717:
“The veto-proof bipartisan support for this bill in the Legislature demonstrated its importance, as the Biden administration continues its tragic failure to secure our southern border, jeopardizing public safety in our Kansas communities,” Schmidt said. “Under this new law, Kansas law enforcement will be able to resume working professionally with federal immigration authorities as the needs of public safety require and not be silenced by a patchwork of local ‘sanctuary city’ gag orders.”
In a press conference Monday, Kansas City Mayor Tyrone Garner, expressed his support for their ordinance, which he said allows them to “build a community” for all residents.
“No matter where they’re from, no matter who they are, they’ve chosen Wyandotte County to be their home and need to feel safe and protected by law enforcement when they seek services, and also they need to feel secure that they will not be exposed to unreasonable immigration enforcement,” Garner said.
HB 2717 passed both the House and Senate with a veto-proof majority. While, the governor could have vetoed the bill, if both chambers maintained their numbers, they could have also overriden the veto. The Attorney General’s proposal would require the local government to provide notice to police officers of an immigrant’s status and would require local ID cards to state that they are not valid forms of state identification.
It reverses some of the changes under Wyandotte County’s “Safe and Welcoming” ordinance, which grants municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants, and also make it illegal for the Unified Government to collect immigration data, unless required by state or federal law.
Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, lead coordinator for the New Frontiers Project, a group working to empower marginalized communities, also joined the press conference on Monday. Rangel-Lopez testified against the bill during hearings, referencing his own experience as a child of immigrants, claiming the newly proposed legislation would also target “mixed-status” families.
“You may say that this legislation does not target legal immigrants, only those that are undocumented. However, the harsh reality is that many of us, including me up until a few years ago, live in mixed-status families. That is, families where some are so-called legal immigrants and others who were not as fortunate are undocumented and living in the shadows of society, doing many of the jobs that employers are now struggling to fill.”ALEJANDRO RANGEL-LOPEZ, NEW FRONTIERS PROJECT
The Attorney General expressed his support for the bill at the Kansas GOP convention last month, voicing his concerns over the ordinance.
“That instructs their police officers not to cooperate and communicate with federal enforcement authorities and says they’re going to start issuing local governmental IDs,” Schmidt said. “That’s a problem and it ought to be unlawful.”
Republican leadership has also supported the bill. Senate Majority Whip Richard Hilderbrand, R-Baxter Springs, defended the bill during a debate in the Senate.
“Immigration is important to our country… to the founding and to today. But there are laws and there are order to do that,” Hilderbrand said.