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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte County commissioners approved an ordinance Thursday night that would grant municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants.

The approval is drawing fire for, in effect, creating a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants.

The vote was 6 to 4. The so-called “Safe and Welcoming” ordinance would also make it illegal for the Unified Government to collect immigration data, unless required by state or federal law.

The new ordinance states that the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department will not respond to calls for assistance from ICE unless the call is to necessary to protect public safety.

After testifying before a packed Unified Government lobby before Mayor Tyrone Garner and commissioners, Yazmin Bruno-Valdez said of the decision, “This means that I get to take my family to get an ID. They get to have safety and finally feel welcome in our community.”

This city ID is for people who were recently in prison, homeless or undocumented. It’s the undocumented population that has critics, including the Kansas attorney general, speaking out.

Immigration attorney Michael Sharma-Crawford said there’s a list for homeless American citizens, too. So when he learned Wyandotte County commissioners passed the Safe and Welcoming Act on Thursday, he said it was a step in the right direction.

“Just imagine what it’s like trying to transact your life and the business you do everyday without any kind of ID,” the mayor’s Labor Liaison Judy Ancell said.

“I want to thank and commend our coalition for persistence over the last 5 years to make this
happen,” said the Rev. Rick Behrens, pastor of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church of KCK. “This is a big win and hard earned. Congratulations KCK for doing the right thing and loving our neighbors. This is a new era for Wyandotte County and big step toward equity for all.”

But not everyone agrees.

“You are discriminating against the legal citizens of Wyandotte County if you pass this ordinance. This ordinance is treasonous,” said Debbie Shaw, who opposed the ordinance.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt released the following statement on Friday regarding the ordinance:

“The local government in Kansas City last night narrowly adopted an ordinance that, in colloquial terms, designates Wyandotte County in some ways as a ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction for illegal immigrants. In part, the ordinance attempts to prohibit or impede Kansas City law enforcement officers from participating or assisting in the enforcement of immigration law. This action is the latest by a Kansas municipality to limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. In my view, it is unwise to inject a patchwork of local immigration politics into law enforcement activities in this manner, particularly at a time when the Biden administration continues to fail in its duty to secure our southern border. It is possible to welcome immigrants without ordering the police to ignore the law.

“This is not merely a matter of local concern. Every Kansan who visits Kansas City for shopping, dining, health care, recreation or any other purpose deserves to know that the local police department can fully participate in enforcement of applicable law and is not arbitrarily obliged to turn a blind eye to particular illegal activity merely because local politicians have demanded it.

“Despite these serious concerns, it is not entirely clear that current state law prohibits what is being done in Kansas City. Even after years of discussion and debate, the State of Kansas has not adopted a state statute specifically prohibiting local ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions for illegal immigration. I believe it is now necessary and appropriate to do so, and I call upon the Legislature to enact a clear, strong and effective state law on this subject this year.”

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

The ordinance would only apply to Kansas City, Kansas. It would not include the county at large, Edwardsville or Bonner Springs.

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