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Kobach Keeps Immigration On State Agenda

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Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is drafting bills to restrict illegal immigration in Kansas while he advises President Donald Trump on the same subject nationally.

Members of the Kansas House and Senate introduced two measures on Kobach’s behalf this week. One bars so-called “sanctuary cities” and the other would instruct the Kansas Highway Patrol to sign an agreement to help the federal Department of Homeland Security with immigration enforcement.

Both measures are conceptual at this point — meaning they’re still awaiting formal numbers and language from the Office of Revisor of Statutes, the Legislature’s team of bill-writers.

But Kobach testified last year in favor of an anti-sanctuary bill that would have nullified any local policies prohibiting Kansas law enforcement officers from gathering information about a person’s immigration status and communicating it to federal agencies. It died in committee amid objections from local officials who said asking them to enforce federal immigration law would be costly and possibly open them to lawsuits.

Kobach has said he is providing immigration policy advice to Trump, who signed an executive order to rescind federal funding for sanctuary cities. That order has since been challenged by San Francisco, which, like other cities, argues that such policies are necessary to reassure immigrants without legal status that they can report crimes without fearing deportation.

Kansas Highway Patrol officials said they weren’t consulted beforehand on the other bill and are waiting to see the official language before commenting.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Republican from Parker, introduced the bills in the Senate and Rep. John Whitmer, a Republican from Wichita, introduced them in the House. Both declined to discuss the bills with the media.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KCUR’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics in Kansas. You can reach him on Twitter @andymarso. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KCUR 89.3 and the Kansas News Service based in Topeka.
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