Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Business coalition reveals plan to keep some illegal immigrants in Kansas

January 31, 2012, 10:52 a.m. Updated January 31, 2012, 12:21 p.m.


— A coalition of business groups will propose Kansas start a new program to help some illegal immigrants remain in the state so they can hold down jobs in agriculture and other industries with labor shortages, coalition representatives disclosed Tuesday.

The proposal is likely to stir controversy in the Legislature and divide the Republican majority, some of whose members have argued Kansas needs to crack down on illegal immigration. Representatives of the business coalition, which includes agriculture groups and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, provided a draft copy of their proposed legislation to The Associated Press ahead of its formal introduction in the House and Senate.

The coalition spelled out details of its proposals only days after state Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman said he would seek a waiver from the federal government to help agribusinesses. But the coalition's representatives said their proposal would make such a step unnecessary.

Instead, the new program proposed by the groups would create a pool of immigrant workers businesses could tap after the state certifies a labor shortage in their industries. The state would support individual workers' requests from the federal government for authorization to continue working in the U.S., despite not being able to document that they are in the country legally.

"The key is, these are people that are in Kansas," said Allie Devine, a Topeka attorney and former state agriculture secretary who lobbies for business owners on immigration policy. "We're asking to keep those people here, let them remain and let them work."

But the proposal is not part of Brownback's legislative agenda, and he's not supporting it, spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said. Asked about Rodman's earlier comments, Jones-Sontag said, "You need to talk to him." A spokeswoman for Rodman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment or an interview.

State Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who's pushing proposals to crack down on illegal immigration, called the business groups' plan "amnesty" for such immigrants. He said the state — working with Democratic President Barack Obama's administration — would give legal status to immigrants "by fiat" despite their being in the U.S. illegally.

"It should make some people mad," Kinzer said. "A proposal like that, I think, is unlikely to make it through the legislative process."

The proposed program would be for illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. at leave five years and have committed no more than one misdemeanor, aside from traffic infractions. The immigrant also would have to agree to work toward English proficiency. Essentially, coalition members said, the federal government would make their deportation a low priority while they continue to work in the U.S.

Businesses would have to pay a fee of up to $5,000, plus an additional $200 for each worker, to tap the labor pool, and they'd have to agree to follow federal labor standards. Money raised by the fees would go to community groups to help finance English lessons, immunizations and other services.

The proposal comes months after the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services enacted a new policy Oct. 1 that reduced or denied food stamps benefits to hundreds of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Legislators also are pursuing several proposals to crack down on illegal immigration.

Kansas' secretary of state, Kris Kobach, a Republican and a former law professor, is known for advising officials in other states about cracking down on illegal immigration. He helped draft tough laws in Arizona and Alabama.


Roland Gunslinger 6 years, 3 months ago

"A coalition of Kansas business groups is proposing a new program to keep some illegal immigrants in the state so that they could hold jobs in industries with labor shortages."

Instead of doing this, why don't they propose a new program that would make these illegals legal?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

We tried that "one time" amnesty already. It didn't work. Are you suggesting a second "one time only" amnesty and if so, why would you expect it to work any differently than the last amnesty?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

You said "make these illegals legal". Are you saying an amnesty for those already here, and then have immigration reform as well? Because again, that's exactly what we set out to do the last time. Only we had the amnesty, the reform never came, and now we have another 12 million or so illegal immigrants.
I fail to see how your suggestions are any different from what has already been tried.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

How about we reverse it this time. First we institute real reform, guard the borders to prevent people from coming over anyway, then deal with the 12 million already here. It's highly unlikely that Congress will deal with immigration reform in any meaningful way. They haven't for decades and I see no reason to believe they will any time soon. BTW - Three members of my immediate family were not born here. The time it took to get here legally varied from a few weeks to five years. But I'm always curious as to what do we say to those scattered around the world, playing by the rules, waiting their turn. What do we tell them when we grant an amnesty to people who by virtue of their first act in coming here broke the law? What do we tell those in Europe, Asia, Africa?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Millions and millions of them? And if you did find a country with as many illegal immigrants as we have, how do they deal with the problem?

somedude20 6 years, 3 months ago

The coalition will have a tough sell to those they wish to keep due to the state cutting off the legal assistance given to the illegal's children (American citizen)

Maybe more Pizza Huts will keep them around FYI, I surely would not try to promote keeping them in Virgil Peck's (red)neck of the woods

I think I will eat that gator meat sandwich after all!

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

I'll be getting a new roof soon. I will not ask for documentation but I do expect the roofers to be able to communicate with me. Is that too much to ask?

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 3 months ago

Chance are they will be able to communicate with you. That's what contractors and crew leaders are for.

Bob Forer 6 years, 3 months ago

There is no such thing as a labor shortage. Just low paying jobs that would pay better if there were no illegals to take them.

Bob Forer 6 years, 3 months ago

There is no such thing as a labor shortage. Just low paying jobs that would pay better if there were no illegals to take them.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 3 months ago

Full agreement. We also have a huge labor pool of already Americans that are getting paid for doing nothing in various forms. They could fill the shortage, then, I'll bet they would quickly find other employment. Couple of problems solved.

Katara 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh most certainly! It worked so well in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia...

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 3 months ago

And, of course, is obviously working so well in western Kansas. Plus the United Farm Workers "Take Our Jobs - Please!" was such a smashing success.

James Nelson 6 years, 3 months ago

Anything the rich man and his lobbyists want.

BigDog 6 years, 3 months ago

Okay .... seems a bit bizarre that the conservative Secretary of State is fighting illegal immigration. Conservative legislators don't want the illegals going to college. Now conservative state Chamber of Commerce wants to keep illegal immigrants here to fill jobs.

hmmmmmm .... as they say .... want to find out the truth, follow the money. Here is the Kansas conservative (Koch) crowd. It is okay to stay in Kansas if you are illegally here as long as you don't want to go to college and willing to fill the crappy jobs other don't want.

If you want to better yourself and go to college .... time to call in ICE

Brock Masters 6 years, 3 months ago

I just have to state the obvious. Entering the US is a crime and depending on how many times you've done it it might even be a felony. At the very least we have one misdemeanor crime when they entered the US. And if they completed the W4 and entered a false SS number you have crime number 2 and crime number 3 if they did the same for the KS withholding tax form.

So how many will actually be able to meet the one misdeanor limit?

Stupid idea. Let's ignore our immigration laws because we need cheap labor. Sounds like the Brownback administration is talking out both sides of its mouth and its lower extremity too. Don't feed American children cause their parents are illegal, promote job creation but let illegals stay to take existing jobs. And yes this is a Brownback proposal cause his Ag secretary is promoting it.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 3 months ago

I'll bet the lobbyists are the ones behind this, and not the rank and file policy makers. You see, you give enough money to a politician and hand him proposed law to take the floor, he is going to take it to the floor.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Fred, They may have committed many crimes, but how many were they convicted of? That's the point.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 3 months ago

"Entering the US is a crime"? Since when? Are you sure you don't want to qualify that statement a wee bit???

deec 6 years, 3 months ago

Ignoring immigration laws because business and their paid-for government want cheap labor is exactly what has been going on for at least the last thirty years. It is actually kind of refreshing that business has shown their hole cards and admitted it.

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

Hiring illegally should be a crime. We need to listen to President Obama, make a sound immigration reform. Temporary work visas, will protect our borders, protect our industries, protect our work place safety. Of course some industries and bosses don't want to give up their source of cheap unprotected labor. I wish the state legislature would protect legal bosses from the unfair competition of those bosses who are breaking law.

goodcountrypeople 6 years, 3 months ago

So much dripping Kansas hypocrisy--you can't beat it.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 3 months ago

We already have unlimited H2-A visa positions available for those agriculture-based employers to seek LEGAL temporary unskilled guest workers. The employers would rather do it outside of the lawful pathway because it is simpler to exploit cheap labor that is here illegally than it is do do the honorable thing.

I wish we knew who these 17 companies were so we could boycott them and/or hit them with a barrage of negative social media messages. They know that the law-abiding public would hand them their hat if we knew who they were, thus the clandestine approach.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

What kawrivercrow said. LJW, please give us a list of the companies proposing this.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 3 months ago

The 17 companies are remaining anonymous...for obvious reassons...they know what they're doing is wrong. However, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce is unable to hide. Tell them NO....HELL NO!! I did.

-email address for Kent D. Beisner; President and CEO: -main phone number for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce: 785-357-6321

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

Email sent. I'll share any reply I get.

Scott Tichenor 6 years, 3 months ago

Should we expect Kris Koboach to brand them or something so they don't vote illegally? After all, that's why they REALLY want to be here.

This is real b.s. We want the cheap labor here and it's OK for immigrants to be here if they serve our business interests, but if they're here and someone can make a campaign issue out of it then that works as well. Can't have it both ways.

Ceallach 6 years, 3 months ago

So, some illegal workers are okay and others are not? If I need them in my business they are okay, but if I can't use them they are not?

Including the Kansas Chamber of Commerce! Someone needs to tell those emperors that they have no clothes!

Ceallach 6 years, 3 months ago

That sounds like a sub-plot for the Housewives of New Jersey :)

tomatogrower 6 years, 3 months ago

Sometimes my neck gets really sore trying to keep up with all of the spinning the Republicans do on issues. I get pretty dizzy too, or is the nausea caused by the realization they are running my state?

deec 6 years, 3 months ago

The corporations pushing this probably already hire undocumented workers, but they want some CYA. Alternatively, because of the repressive climate, prejudice, and general nastiness towards the workers, the corporate farms and meat plants can no longer hire enough undocumented workers to exploit. The workers have moved on, to less unpleasant states, or back home.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 3 months ago

Because Illegals are only a problem when they are NOT saving the state money.

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