Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kansas likely to join ranks of states implementing stringent new immigration regulations

December 30, 2010


— Kansas legislators expect next year to join the growing list of states trying to keep illegal immigrants out and to discourage businesses from hiring them. One of the top legal minds in that movement is about to take office as Kansas' secretary of state, and he said he's ready to advise lawmakers.

But strong opposition is expected from the state's business community, particularly the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Gov.-elect Sam Brownback also is cool to sweeping immigration proposals, preferring to focus on the state's budget woes and creating jobs.

The chamber's resistance creates an odd political dynamic in a Republican-leaning state with large GOP majorities in its Legislature and, soon, no Democrats in statewide elective office. Some legislators advocating the low-tax, small-government agenda favored by the chamber will be fighting the state's largest business group on immigration.

So far, the state chamber has prevailed. But advocates of get-tough measures like those instituted in Arizona believe they're tapping into national frustration with federal inaction and expect pressure to build on the Legislature after it opens its annual session and Brownback is sworn in Jan. 10.

"A few interest groups who are plugged into the legislative process can derail something," said Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach, a law professor on leave who's gained national attention for working on immigration issues with legislators in other states. "But ultimately, I think you find that, in end, if the people of a state really want a statute, it eventually happens."

The Kansas Chamber has focused its opposition on proposals requiring employers to verify that workers are in the U.S. legally and fining companies or taking away their licenses if they hire illegal immigrants.

Chamber officials argue those laws can impose draconian punishments for unintentional mistakes. Kent Beisner, the Kansas Chamber's president and chief executive officer, also said if Kansas enacts rules and other states don't, Kansas will find it harder to attract and keep businesses.

"We want to be as competitive as we can be," Beisner said.

Many legislators saw the chamber as a big reason why Kansas' last attempt to enact a sweeping immigration law that included penalties for employers failed in 2008. The House and Senate were negotiating a final version but couldn't agree.

"There were at least a number of business interests that simply did not want to see any meaningful immigration reform bill that dealt with the employment issue," said state Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who helped lead the push in 2008.

The nonprofit, Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 65,000 immigrants in Kansas were among the 11.1 million in the U.S. illegally in 2009. The center also estimates that 50,000 Kansas workers, about 3 percent of the total, are illegal immigrants. It says the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has dropped in the past few years.

State legislators nationwide have grown less willing to wait on the federal government to address the issue. The National Conference of State Legislatures said that in the first half of 2010, state lawmakers considered almost 1,400 immigration proposals — four times as many as five years ago.

Kobach helped write this year's law in Arizona empowering police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, a policy some Kansas lawmakers hope to enact in their state. He also was involved in drafting a 2008 Missouri law that penalizes businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Kinzer said he and other legislators are interested in not only those measures, but also repealing a state law that gives some illegal immigrants a break on tuition at state universities and colleges. And Kobach campaigned successfully on a promise that he'll seek a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls and proof of citizenship when they register to vote for the first time in a new place.

Groups providing services and advocating for immigrants worry about how such proposals would hurt families with some members in the U.S. legally and others illegally. They argue legislators would do better to provide immigrants with help in gaining citizenship.

"We have short-term memories about the contributions of immigrants to this country," said Mary Lou Jaramillo, president and CEO of El Centro Inc., a Kansas City, Kan.-based social service and advocacy group.

Brownback has endorsed Kobach's voter ID and proof-of-citizenship. But he said other immigration measures adopted elsewhere are still being challenged in court.

"I don't think we should be going at it — going at those areas that are in the middle of litigation," he said during a recent interview

Meanwhile, the chamber's resistance is important because it's a major player in state politics. The chamber and its political action committee have reported spending more than $1.1 million on lobbying and campaign-related activities in the past six years.

One vice president and lobbyist, Jeff Glendening, is a former member of the state House majority leader's staff. A former lobbyist, Rachelle Colombo, left the House majority leader's staff to join the chamber and then earlier this month became chief of staff to House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican.

And, of course, lawmakers have listened to its arguments in the past.

"Immigration should be resolved at the federal level," Beisner said. "It hasn't been addressed there, and I think that's where it needs to be addressed."


melott 3 years, 3 months ago

I am glad that the effort proposed for Kansas includes penalties on employers. That has been sadly missing from many efforts. I never heard about it being part of the Arizona effort. The only way we will stop the flood across our borders is to penalize employers enough for hiring illegals that it is no longer worthwhile for them. Then they will have to raise wages enough that legal Americans want the jobs. This means our prices will go up. Are you all ready to pay more? I am. But it will mean higher prices, which will be a hardship. Just a dose of reality. I support doing this.


Scott Morgan 3 years, 3 months ago

Sigh, oh my.

Every year when making our journey to the desert we spend a couple of nights in Liberal Kansas. Not Paris mind you, but not what movie makers paint a picture of either.

We stay in a fine place with pool and a pit BBQ on site. Had live music on weekends too. The price per stay was less than we paid to see True Grit with snacks last week.

Liberal looked cool to me. . For a young person or couple who wish to really work a good life can be had. Affordable homes, good schools, some degree of nightlife, great minor league baseball, a place to call home. Last time through Liberal had job opportunity too. Not just meatpacking either.

Last time through heard not a soul mention how they wish to be in Lawrence.

If our economy keeps spiraling downward people will flock to our Liberals, Great Bend (has BMW/Mercedes dealer), Salina, and many many other fine Western towns and small cities.

Kansas is a fine state, get out and see it sometime.


jessanddaron 3 years, 3 months ago

This is a joke, go somewhere with a real immigration "problem". This is more "bandwagon" the GOP can jump on. There are more illegal immigrants in a 2 square block radius in Texas or California than anywhere I have been in Kansas. I'm not the census bureau but that is my 3 year experience living in the state thus far.


Scott Morgan 3 years, 3 months ago

seeker, I've never watched Beck, or ? druggie links. I like to be well informed. Here is a link, would the NY Times be A-OK. Google.... Hospital crisis ER California and you will get a good eye opener.

I do not count feds using my money to bail out hospitals treating illegals as making it.


Scott Morgan 3 years, 3 months ago

Why don't we simply enforce the laws we currently have?

Food for thought. What if Lawrence Memorial Hospital was faced like medical facilities in CA and AZ of treating not one or two, but hundreds of illegal non paying patients? How would this effect our local standard of living. These patients including newborns are not tossed in the street, aftercare is administered as well. Sound expensive?

Hint, many fine small town hospitals in these states simply went out of business. So long American Dream.


Ernest Barteldes 3 years, 3 months ago

So Kansas wants to be Arizona... Just another reason to mock the Sunflower state... Hey, Kansas legislators: Study some history: California did that years ago and they were beat in the courts. How about waiting to see how Arizona fares in the Supreme Court?


RobertMarble 3 years, 3 months ago much as possible should be done to discourage illegal immigration. if they want to be here they should go through the legal process to do it like millions of others have proudly done in the past. otherwise, treat 'em like the criminals they let the libtards whine about that


Edward Coan 3 years, 3 months ago

Interesting split in the KRP. Wouldn't be surprised if the Chamber tries to woe Democrats. Fact is, the state Chamber wants businesses to have the opportunity to pay slave wages so they don't have to pay true Americans a decent wage. Talk about selling out to our own citizens...


Edward Coan 3 years, 3 months ago

"Kansas will find it harder to attract and keep businesses."

How many times are we going to have to listen to this BS excuse?


scott3460 3 years, 3 months ago

"Immigration should be resolved at the federal level," Beisner said. "It hasn't been addressed there, and I think that's where it needs to be addressed."

Because we've all seen how effectively the US Senate has been at addressing people's concerns.

Translation: We're perfectly OK paying slave wages, don't give a tinker's damn about American citizens and will do anything, no matter how immoral to make a buck.


seeker_of_truth 3 years, 3 months ago

Thing is, most Americans don't think like you.


lostinphnx 3 years, 3 months ago

Being from Phoenix and living there now for almost a 1/4 Century let me tell you how much it has hurt our economy to have Illegal aliens Mostly Mexicans working and living in our state has done. 1. The amount of health care that is given to them free is in the billions of dollars per year. 2. The amount of drugs brought into our state is in the billions of dollars per year. 3. The jobs these people work takes away jobs from citizens. 4. The employers that hire these people save hundreds of millions of dollars p0er year not paying taxes. 5. The amount of stolen i.d.'s that are stolen each year amounts into the millions of lost benefits and heartaches from the people that they were stolen from. 6. The employment that these people take away and not paying taxes is in the billions of dollars each year. 7. Free education to the illegals is now a big issue, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year to send them to school with no payback to society. 8. Crime drugs gangs and most of all welfare benefits Medicaid and social services cost the legal taxpayers billions of dollars each year and it it growing. 9. the bleeding heart liberals need to wake up or join the illegals and move out of this country they mooch off of the system and never give anything back. 10. Last and most important is the employers hiring these illegals, they get an unfair advantage over the employers that do not hire, its slave labor,they condone the illegal activities of the illegals,they are bankrupting the entire system only so the can hire someone cheap, they do not care about you or me its corporate america they only care about the bottom line and they could care less about who they hurt. Last we citizens here in Arizona have taken a different approach lately we only vote for people that enforce illegal immigrant laws, we boycott restaurants, and employers that hire illegals, and last we do not tolerate anymore the liberals that condone this behavior we Americans are taking back our country one square foot at a time. And to add to this we elect our sheriffs like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County Phoenix to support the laws and arrest the illegals and shut down the employers that openly hire them. Yes Lawrence Kansas you need better leadership then what you have now you need politicians that have the guts to stand up against the law breakers no matter what race they are and deport them all. Good luck and Happy new year from Arizona.


bobberboy 3 years, 3 months ago

don't know about kobach but illegal aliens should definately be given their walking papers.


Creamygoodness 3 years, 3 months ago

Anybody else see Gangs of New York, this is the same exact thing with a bunch of conservatives who claim that illegals are taking our jobs. What jobs are those i might ask, picking vegetables in the middle of the summer in a field, snow removial, lawn care....i didn't know those were jobs that the people of Kansas needed to keep. WE LIVE IN KANSAS, not texas, or Arizona or California. There is no immigration issue, this is the same thing that these "pubs" have been doing forever in Kansas, rallying and tricking the people behind a non-issue.


bearded_gnome 3 years, 3 months ago

oh, the number is thought to be shrinking of illegals who are working? you mean even this liberal and pro-open borders center (the hispanic center) is admitting that these people self-deport?
what a concept? let's encourage more of that!
and halting illegal immigration does improve wages and employment for legal immigrants, and low educational attainment nonimmigrant americans.
thus, this does actually help jobs. that is jobs for those who are supposed to be here.

do we even want a "path to citizenship" for people who knowingly broke the law and broke into our country?


BornAgainAmerican 3 years, 3 months ago

Legislation to discourage illegal immigration is needed in Kansas. It's no accident that states with the largest illegal population are also the states hardest hit by the current economic slump. California, Arizona, New York, Nevada, etc. are in deep doo-doo.


BABBOY 3 years, 3 months ago

The last thing Kobach wants is to solve this problem. I mean the only reason the red necks and the conservatives voted for a little rich boy like Koback was the illegal immigrant issue he created from dust. I mean why would he want to lose all that legal work he is going to do on the side (on State time) to get richer.

Do you really think this pretty boy wants to take a pay cut?!!

It worked. Now, the Chamber of Commerce, AFP, Koch brothers see Kris "richy rich" Kobach as someone they can get elected.


PalinPalms 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm so proud of kicking those Washington insiders and eleitiests lawers out of DC


Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Bust the employers. If it were not for them immigrants would not be anywhere "illegally".

WE don't need new laws. Thousands get deported as it is according to radio news this AM.

Instead of political rhetoric bust the employers. IF employers ignore existing laws what good will new laws do..... it's nonsense.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Ahh, the latest distraction from the Big Thinkers of the Right.

While Kobach, et al, are busy with their sleights of hand fixing yet another thing that ain't really broken, the Koch brothers will be making out like bandits (again,) at the expense of the vast majority of teabaggers, and they still won't get it.


seeker_of_truth 3 years, 3 months ago

Sure you all noticed that nobody had the guts to sign their name to article. Just generic AP label.


seeker_of_truth 3 years, 3 months ago

Best laugh this year, "Top Legal Mind"


kernal 3 years, 3 months ago

Y'all from KCMO? Passport, please.


CorkyHundley 3 years, 3 months ago

Lawbreakers should be handled as such.


William Weissbeck 3 years, 3 months ago

Kansas, like much of the Great Plains, needs all the population it can get. If anything, the state should be putting ads in foreign papers, like the railroads did at the end of the 19th Cent., inviting as many who want, to come here and work.


deathpenaltyliberal 3 years, 3 months ago

"One of the top legal minds in that movement is about to take office...."

That's like being the center on a midget basketball team. No disrespect meant to midgets.


Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

"One of the top legal minds in that movement is about to take office as Kansas' secretary of state...."

Well ... after Phill Kline! (And no one knows more about cattle fencing laws than Sam Brownback.)

Seriously, Kobach has a cottage industry in crafting losing anti-immigrant lawsuits. The word is "losing" as in his bizarre legal theories failing again and again and again in court. He is to immigration what Glenn Back is to overpriced gold.

Jon Stewart proved long ago, you don't have to be a comic genius. You just have to open the newspaper and read what an "unsigned" AP author unilaterally endorses to be a "top legal mind."

Kansans should feel blessed to have lured such a mind away from the nation's top law firms and law schools to runs the state's corporation registration system and oversee the election ballot printer!!


booklover2 3 years, 3 months ago

"Top legal mind".....Kobach? Don't know about that.....


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