Democrat Kansas Gov. Kelly Signs Bill to Allow Local Police to Cooperate with Feds on Immigration Enforcement


Democrat Kansas Governor Laura Kelly reversed her stance on not allowing local police to work with federal officers to enforce immigration laws by signing a bill on Monday revoking parts of the “safe and welcoming” ordinance put in place in Wyandotte County in February.

Kelly, who faces a reelection vote in November, is being criticized by people on both sides of the aisle and by immigration activists.

Republican State Sen. Richard Hilderbrand said Kelly must have “seen some polling” before deciding to sign the bill.

Marcus Winn of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity called Kelly’s move “a failure of leadership,” “political cowardice,” and a “moral betrayal.” 

“It’s clear that there are Kansas political leaders from both parties guided more by personal ambition than the common good of our state,” Winn said. “Moving forward, we plan to remind all our elected officials, regardless of party or position, that they work for the people and hold them accountable.”

The Kansas City Star reported on the development, including that the bill was proposed by her likely November challenger, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

“Under this new law, Kansas law enforcement will be able to resume working professionally with federal immigration authorities as the needs of public safety require and not be silenced by a patchwork of local ‘sanctuary city’ gag orders,” Schmidt said.

The Star reported:

Kelly indicated last month she was unlikely to sign the bill, citing her support for local control. But in a statement Monday, she echoed Schmidt and other Republicans, asserting that immigration “cannot be resolved at a municipal level.”

“I encourage my colleagues who sent me this bill to persuade our federal delegation to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that allows us to continue growing our economy and meeting our workforce needs here in Kansas,” Kelly said.

Wyandotte County passed the “safe and welcoming” ordinance in February, establishing a municipal identification card and limiting how the Unified Government and KCK [Kansas City Kansas] police department would work with federal immigration authorities.

The bill still lets Wyandotte County issue municipal IDs but they cannot be used for official state business like voting. But it prohibits local governments from preventing local law enforcement from working with federal immigration authorities.

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