Bill to limit sanctuary cities and municipal IDs clears Kansas House, now on to Senate

A bill to preclude sanctuary city laws and limit the reach of “municipal IDs,” such as the ones coming in Wyandotte County, was approved by the Kansas House Wednesday and moves on to the state Senate. 

House Bill 2717, approved by a veto-proof 84-38 majority, is a direct response to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas’ decision last month to essentially make itself a sanctuary city. The ordinance created a new municipal ID, and established plans to contract with a local nonprofit to administer the cards to illegal immigrants as the nonprofit sees fit.

The House bill, backed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt, also would mandate that local law enforcement agencies cooperate with state and federal agencies in the enforcement of immigration laws.  

The Wyandotte County ordinance “contains provisions that raise public safety, public policy and rule-of-law concerns of interest well beyond Wyandotte County, Kansas,” Schmidt said in earlier testimony to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

“Kansans deserve to know that laws applicable throughout our state will be enforced fairly and evenly throughout our state,” he added. “State law enforcement officers, or law enforcement officers from other local jurisdictions who may be participating in multi-agency investigations or enforcement actions, deserve to know that their local partners from Kansas City, Kansas Police Department can be full partners.”

“The power to secure our borders is a federal power, and the power to issue identification, such as drivers’ licenses, is traditionally a state power,” State Sen. Kellie Warren, R-Leawood, told The Heartlander. “If you combine our counties and our cities in Kansas, that’s over 700 jurisdictions.

“It would make the rule of law a farce if we enabled every single county to become city-states and be able to adopt its own immigration and voter ID policies. It clearly indicates that going down this road would be chaotic both for law enforcement and the public at large.”

The number and nature of the records accepted by the Wyandotte County Unified Government for proof of identity to get municipal ID cards is another concern: upward of 40 different documents, which may have been expired for as much as 10 years. The ID cards also would allow applicants to designate their own gender on the card. 

Critics point out that there is no real verification of the applicant’s identity, and outsourcing the program to an unidentified third-party entity delegates far too much power to the as-yet-named organization giving out the ID cards. The organization also will have the ability to waive all forms of identification to get the cards. 

Despite the full support of the newly elected Mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, Tyrone Garner, the “Safe and Welcoming Act” establishing the municipal ID cards passed by a slim 6-4 vote of Wyandotte’s Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

Opponents on the commission believe the ordinance was rushed through without adequate public notice. And they say that what started out simply as an ID card grew to include many more progressive ideas they couldn’t support.

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