‘We are not New York City’: Clay, Platte County commissioners rebuff KC mayor’s plan to import immigrant labor force

Presiding commissioners for Clay and Platte Counties in Missouri have issued a joint statement urging Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to scrap plans for importing immigrant labor.

Lucas announced his plan on social media platform X last week to work with the mayors of Denver and New York to import immigrant laborers. 

All are welcome in Kansas City,” Lucas wrote. “Proud to work with my fellow mayors like @MikeJohnstonCO and @NYCMayor as we work to ensure decompression of new arriving communities and collaboration among cities, labor, non-profits, and federal officials.”

Clay County Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte and Platte County Presiding Commissioner Scott Fricker, say not only is the plan likely in violation of state law, it could also prove to be very costly and lead to an increase in violent crime – all of which would further tax a city and population already desperately searching for answers.

“As Commissioners of counties that include significant portions of Kansas City,” the statement reads, “we are concerned that this misguided policy would violate Missouri Sanctuary City Law, possibly resulting in the loss of state funding currently contained in the proposed Missouri state budget. This budget includes millions of dollars in state funding for local law enforcement agencies, the loss of which would compromise the public safety of Kansas City residents living in our counties …

“The Mayor of New York City puts the cost of their migrant crisis at $12 billion by the Summer of 2025. The cost of [Mayor Lucas’] proposal will not be borne solely by Kansas City, but will be shared by citizens across the metropolitan area who have no say in this policy. A massive influx of migrants will inevitably impact surrounding areas like the Northland and increase the strain on an already serious housing crisis and on services for citizens like law enforcement, education, social services, and health care systems.”

The commissioners also call on Lucas to advance a resolution requiring a full council vote on Lucas’s move, which critics deride as a de facto making of KC into a sanctuary city. The resolution would essentially amount to a pledge to the Missouri Legislature the city will not enact any sanctuary city laws or policies.

“We further call on the mayor to advance Councilman Nathan Willett’s Resolution 240412 out of committee for a vote this month by the full Council. Resolution 240412, ‘Affirming to the Missouri State Legislature that Kansas City will not become a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants,’ is an important resolution that we hope will be supported by the mayor and by all Kansas City Councilmembers.”

Lucas shared a Bloomberg article in which he details his plan, arguing it will benefit Kansas City’s economy, which he says is experiencing a labor shortage. He also argues the plan would be equally beneficial for other participating cities.

“Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has a hunch that migrants with work permits could help alleviate the labor shortage that has built up as his city posts some of the region’s fastest economic growth,” the Bloomberg article claims. “That could also help ease the burden on cities like New York that have struggled to provide housing and support for an unprecedented influx of new arrivals, many of them asylum seekers from Latin America.”

“We need a lot more employees,” Lucas told Bloomberg. “If there are people who are willing and ready to work, then I believe that there could be a place for them.”

Lucas admits the program will not be without its costs, reportedly earmarking an estimated $1 million from the 2024-25 budget for “short-term rehousing, healthcare, and job training programs for refugees and migrants.” He also envisions the city needing to provide language services as most, if not all, of the immigrant laborers in question do not speak English.

While the immigration debate in the U.S. has been raging for years now, it has recently shifted. 

Progressives point to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office to claim the U.S. economy is dependent on a large immigrant labor force. The report estimates a $7 trillion increase in GDP by the year 2033 that will be driven at least in part by a “surge in immigration.”

However, not everyone is convinced a mass influx of unskilled workers will have such a positive impact. Others, including Nolte, point to the unwanted impacts mass immigration has had on cities all over the country, even in addition to the massive expense.

“We should not import the violence exemplified by undocumented migrants attacking police officers in Times Square and the brutal murder of Laken Hope Riley by an illegal immigrant who was issued a work permit and later released. We are not New York City,” Nolte said in the press release. “Forcing these reckless and likely illegal policies will only increase criminal activity and endanger Northland families.”

Nolte told The Heartlander he’s cautiously optimistic Lucas will do the right thing, pointing to Willett’s resolution scheduled for discussion at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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