Barnett proposes law-enforcement training to fight illegal immigration

? Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett said Wednesday he would seek more training for state and local law enforcement to crack down on the flow of illegal immigrants coming through Kansas.

Barnett, a state senator from Emporia, said he would sign an agreement as allowed by a 1997 federal immigration law. It allows federal officials to provide locals with training to detect and combat illegal immigration activities.

“We will always welcome those who enter our country legally, but we should not stand by idly and do nothing while illegal aliens are in our state, and particularly if those illegal aliens have committed crimes, if they are smuggling drugs or have committed such atrocities such as rape,” Barnett said.

The additional training would give law enforcement the tools to investigate and take into custody illegal immigrants, then hand them off to federal officials for prosecution and deportation.

Lt. John Eichkorn, a spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol, said illegal immigration has been an issue for years, and the frustration has been the federal government’s lack of resources, making it difficult for federal officials to respond when illegal immigrants are caught.

During a conference call with reporters from Wichita, Barnett reaffirmed his support for requiring all voters to present a photo identification when they go to the polls on election day.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill requiring such documentation, and similar laws recently have been ruled unconstitutional in Missouri and Georgia.

Barnett made his comments on immigration the day after he began airing a television ad comparing his stance on illegal immigration with that of Sebelius. He acknowledged that he has needed time to raise the money to afford TV ads, citing the financial demands of winning the Aug. 1 primary.

“We worked hard; we spent ourselves down. We had to reload. We’re coming back,” Barnett said.

Sebelius has aired five television ads and two radio spots touting efforts to bring civility to the school finance debate, improve the state economy and lend support to the military and its families.

Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said it was “unfortunate” that Barnett’s first ad would have a negative tone.

“Kansans have seen this variety of politics before, and it’s not very helpful,” Corcoran said.