Group calls for municipal IDs, ordinance making Wyandotte County safe and welcoming for immigrants

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte wants the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas to hold a public hearing on a pair of proposals, including a new municipal ID program for residents.

The organization, comprised of more than a dozen groups focused on immigration reform, held an online public forum instead Tuesday night outlining the additional request of a Safe and Welcoming ordinance.

The ordinance would make it clear the Unified Government and local law enforcement wouldn’t partner with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, except in tracking down dangerous fugitives.

But so far the mayor has expressed reservations about putting any such ordinance on the agenda.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Mayor David Alvey said he doesn’t think an ordinance is necessary, saying there’s no partnership with ICE. He also said it could void grant money the county accepts under certain stipulations to cooperate with the federal government.

“In their perspective nothing is happening, therefore we do not need it. But in reality they are not immigrants, they are not undocumented, they are not the elderly, foster children they are not going through this, so they do not know,” Karla Juarez, Executive Director of Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation, said.

The coalition of more than a dozen immigration reform advocacy groups wants those assurances in conjunction with a proposed municipal ID program for residents, which would help them access services where a photo ID is needed.

It’s a program the Unified Government has work-shopped and determined might cost approximately $140,000 to launch. Those costs have been offset in other communities through private sponsorship of municipal ID programs.

“The ICE non-compliance is not something that we can negotiate our communities will not sign up for this program if they know their information can be compromised and can be shared,” Yazmin Bruno-Valdez said.

Bruno Valdez just obtained her social security Tuesday through DACA after living as an undocumented immigrant since the third grade. She’s been pulled over three times, what she calls traumatic experiences

“They were taking away my keys the police officer was taking a very long time running my information since I’m undocumented there was no license to go with my name and there was no records, so I was really scared,” she said.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree joined in calls for Safe and Welcoming ordinance Tuesday night saying it would make the area safer for all residents, if crime witnesses and victims weren’t scared to come forward because of deportation.

Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte plans a protest outside Unified Government offices July 15 at 6p.m.

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