Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, right, introduced a House bill forbidding “sanctuary” cities to thwart action by the Unified Government of Kansas City/Wyandotte County. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Attorney General Derek Schmidt introduced legislation in the Kansas House to create a state law blocking local municipal governments from adopting rules against cooperation with federal law enforcement investigating illegal immigrants.
Schmidt’s legislative push followed action in early February by the Unified Government of Kansas City/Wyandotte County to authorize issuance of photograph identification cards to undocumented people to improve access to public services. The Safe and Welcoming City Act was structured so the ID information wouldn’t be shared with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The attorney general, who is a Republican candidate for governor, said the House bill would prevent cities, counties and other taxing subdivisions from giving rise to formation of a “sanctuary” jurisdiction.
“Citizens throughout our state deserve to know that wherever they may travel in Kansas, law enforcement officials are cooperating with federal and state agencies to fairly enforce applicable law and are not obliged to turn a blind eye to some unlawful conduct merely because of local politics,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said a statewide response was necessary due to failure by the administration of President Joe Biden to “secure our nation’s southwest border.”
“This is an important law-and-order issue throughout our state, not merely a matter for local preference,” the attorney general said.
Under House Bill 2717, local units of government couldn’t adopt an “ordinance, resolution, rule or policy” that would interfere with law enforcement cooperation in immigration enforcement actions. In Wyandotte County, law enforcement officials said they hadn’t joined ICE agents on immigration raids for years.
The measure endorsed by Schmidt also would forbid municipal governments from issuing ID cards to be people not lawfully residing in the United States that were designed to satisfy identification requirements set in state law. Any cards of this type would have to bear the words “Not valid for state ID.” Violation of the proposed statute would be considered ID fraud under state criminal law.
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