Archive for Monday, December 12, 2016

Lawrence City Commission to consider students’ request to become sanctuary city

Lawrence High School junior Viveca Price, left with arm raised, stands with the students who signed a petition for Lawrence to become a sanctuary city. Price and others organized a walk-out from school on Dec. 1, in which the students brought the signed petition to City Hall. The petition was formally presented to the City Commission on Tuesday.

Lawrence High School junior Viveca Price, left with arm raised, stands with the students who signed a petition for Lawrence to become a sanctuary city. Price and others organized a walk-out from school on Dec. 1, in which the students brought the signed petition to City Hall. The petition was formally presented to the City Commission on Tuesday.

December 12, 2016


A group of students wants the City of Lawrence to join a growing list of “sanctuary cities” across the country that limit their reporting to federal immigration agencies.

The students said they were prompted in part by the election of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has taken a hard stance on illegal immigration, deportation and refugees.

“I’m hoping that they’ll feel like their city has their back on some level,” said Viveca Price, a junior at Lawrence High School involved with the petition.

Throughout his campaign, Trump talked about mass deportations and monitoring refugees from countries known for terrorism.

Some also worry about the future of the executive order issued by President Barack Obama, DACA, which provided protection from deportation to millions of people who were brought to the country illegally as children. Obama’s order gave those immigrants temporary permission to work and study in the U.S., which Trump could potentially rescind. However, Trump has indicated more recently that his first deportation efforts will be focused on criminals.

The request to make Lawrence a sanctuary city was part of a petition made by about 20 students from Lawrence High School and presented formally to the City Commission at its meeting Tuesday. City Manager Tom Markus said city attorneys will review the request and it would come back before the commission at a later date.

Creating a sanctuary

Price said she hopes being a sanctuary city will help people who may feel threatened by some of Trump’s potential policies to feel safer.

“By becoming a sanctuary city, you would align yourself with the people of your community, specifically those who are refugees, immigrants and Muslims,” Price said. “Because while all minorities are threatened by what’s going on in January, and our next few years, it has the possibility to be worse for those members.”

There is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, but the most common form is a local government that instructs its law enforcement not to investigate or report someone's immigration status to federal immigration agencies unless there's a compelling reason to do so.

Such a designation could bring blowback at both the national and state levels. Opponents of sanctuary policies say they can threaten the safety of other residents by enabling undocumented immigrants who have committed a crime to remain in the country. Earlier this year, Kansas lawmakers introduced a measure to ban cities or counties from adopting such policies, but it died in committee. Sanctuary counties in Kansas include Butler, Finney, Harvey, Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee.

Local leaders say the high school students aren’t the only ones to bring up the topic. The University of Kansas Student Senate passed a resolution last month asking that Lawrence become a sanctuary city, and City Commissioner Matthew Herbert said he’s gotten questions about it from several residents.

“I think it’s a conversation we’re going to have to have,” Herbert said.

The reach of a city policy also would need to be determined. Whether action by the City Commission could create an overarching policy that covered both law enforcement agencies that serve the area isn’t clear. Markus said there won’t be an answer to that until city attorneys have finished their review of the request.

“I think it’s premature to comment on it until we’ve had a discussion and until we’ve had a chance to look at it,” Markus said.

Current practice

When local law enforcement agencies check and report a person’s immigration status varies, currently, depending on the circumstances and the agency involved.

Lawrence police officers commonly come into contact with undocumented immigrants, according to Capt. Anthony Brixius. Such contact happens most commonly in traffic stops or calls for service in which the person is the victim, witness or suspect of a crime, Brixius said.

“It’s really not a question that we ask very much, but we do figure it out with identification cards,” Brixius said.

Brixius said that although the department doesn’t have a policy, its general practice is that unless someone is in custody for suspicion of a person felony, officers wouldn’t check his or her immigration status or report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

However, the Lawrence Police Department’s practice only extends so far. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the local jail, operates differently.

Generally, if sheriff’s office deputies need to check a person’s ID as part of their duties — whether that be part of an arrest, dispatched call or traffic stop — they would also check that person’s immigration status, according to Sgt. Kristen Dymacek. If the person were identified as an undocumented immigrant, the sheriff’s office would notify ICE regardless of whether that person had committed a crime.

Under all circumstances, a person would never be detained solely because of their immigration status. Dymacek said if an undocumented immigrant had committed a crime, he or she would be arrested, booked into jail and charged, and be allowed to post bond if applicable.

Not a simple issue

The students’ request is part of growing conversations both national and local.

Though such policies have existed in some cities for years, the election of Trump has redirected attention to sanctuary cities. Major U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles have said they won’t work with federal agencies to deport undocumented immigrants. Trump has threatened to cut some federal funding to sanctuary cities once he becomes president.

Herbert said it’s not a simple issue, and that a lot of people don’t realize the implications of the city adopting an official sanctuary policy. He said the discussion will have to involve a lot of conversation with the community, the city manager and higher levels of government.

“I think a lot of people, their understanding of exactly what sanctuary status does is pretty limited,” Herbert said. “It’s not simply a solidarity statement. There is a whole lot more that goes into it and some of things that go into it involve defying federal orders, essentially. And I think anytime you get into stuff like that, you can’t make it a simple issue.”

Statement of solidarity

The request from the high school students, though, goes beyond protection for undocumented immigrants. In addition to being a sanctuary city, the petition asks for a statement of solidarity with people of color, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups.

Price said she wrote the petition along with fellow LHS student Jazzmin Matchette.

“Jazzmin and I, we really want Lawrence to be a safe place,” Price said. “We saw some ideas from other sanctuary cities, and they were recently putting out statements similar to ours.”

In support of their effort, the students organized a walkout from school on Dec. 1, in which more than 20 students brought the signed petition to City Hall. Their request was eventually presented to Markus, after which it was added to the agenda for the City Commission’s next meeting. On Tuesday, Price and Matchette presented the request as part of the public comment portion of the meeting.

The one-page request includes a list of five demands, including several policies or practices. The five demands, summarized, are as follows:

• That revisions be made to the city’s human relations policy to include the promotion of safety from the police department and the creation of a citywide “safe zone.”

• Not label Black Lives Matter or any groups that promote social justice as criminal or terrorist organizations. The city will not attack any of these groups or those in attendance.

• Not to assist, cooperate or aid in the surveillance of Muslims, immigrants or refugees.

• That commissioners design legal strategies to resist federal policies that would put marginalized groups in danger.

• That commissioners design legal strategies to resist any possible defunding of businesses and organizations that include and are similar to Planned Parenthood.

City policy

The city’s current human relations policy explicitly prohibits discrimination in employment and housing. That policy covers discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, familial status, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity.

Whether a sanctuary policy could be adopted or whether the existing policy can be expanded somehow will likely be part of the conversation going forward.

Markus said city staff are in the process of arranging a meeting with the students to further discuss their request. City attorneys will research the topic and bring a recommendation to the City Commission to review at an upcoming meeting.

Herbert said that review, specifically the legal expertise of city attorneys, will be key in his consideration of the request.

“I understand the emotional push from the community, that we want to be an accepting community — we’re sort of the progressive island in the middle of Kansas,” Herbert said. “I absolutely believe all of that, but I think as city commissioners we have an obligation to make sure that the decision that we make for our city doesn’t have unintended consequences that are going to be fairly large.”

Contact city reporter Rochelle Valverde
Have a tip or story idea?
More stories


Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

When did cities get the legal right to ignore federal laws?

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

Snowflakes and criminals need safe places to coalesce and plot.

It does not matter if it is legal or not. Snowflakes have feelings. Feelings trump law.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 5 months ago

I thought you conservative were all for local control an state's rights. I thought you hated the evil federal government. More hypocrite.

Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

You continue to wildly misinterpret things.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 5 months ago

Please explain how that is misinterpretation, Bob. Your comments lead me to believe that is exactly what you want. Are we wrong?

Cadence Wilson 1 year, 5 months ago

Headline for December 12, 2017: "Crime rate has doubled since Lawrence opened its doors to illegal aliens." Listen people, these ALIENS are here ILLEGALLY. Are some (many) good people? Sure. Should they be allowed to come back legally? Absolutely. But, they broke our immigration laws when they came here ILLEGALLY. The penalty for that is deportation. Period. The end. How is it fair for those that actually came here legally? Where is the motivation to jump through all the hoops to get an immigrant visa if the government just gives everyone amnesty? Sorry kids, horrible idea. Someday you will stop looking at the world through rose-colored lenses and realize that laws are in place to protect you.

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

I suggest describing them for what the are. They are criminals. They broke and entered. They trespassed. They are criminal trespassers.

"ALIENS" is not descriptive.

Nathan Anderson 1 year, 5 months ago

Bob, to be fair it is only a misdemeanor for a first time offender to cross the border illegally. If they get caught, deported, then cross again, then it's a felony. Also, unlawful residence is a violation of civil law, not criminal, hence deportation instead of incarceration.

Nathan Anderson 1 year, 5 months ago

They also submitted a stolen or fake SS card to their employer, which is a felony.

Kathleen Christian 1 year, 5 months ago

Totally agree with you these foreigners are breaking the law by not applying for legal residence. Next it will be allowing illegals a vote to select council members on the city council as one city has done in Hyattsville, MD. This is getting out of control. These kids would not be so agreeable to this if one of these NON-Americans either took away a job they wanted or one being a criminal committed a crime against them or a family member or close friend. They need to snap out of it and face reality.

Charlie Dominguez 1 year, 5 months ago

Right on. So many misimforned that base their finding on Headline News from the television or FaceBook. It is the time of Trump!! Ignorance Rules!

Charlie Dominguez 1 year, 5 months ago

No one said anything about amnesty Mrs Trump. And you wouldn't be having this conversation if it was whites from South Africa. We are the richest nation in the world, at least 1% of Americans are; and it is because of this nations history whereby the US has instilled dictators throughout the world in part, that this nation gained its wealth. Let's not forget our own sins of the genocide of the Natives, the import of Africans and the following Jim Crow laws that governed this land for 100s of years. Have some empathy for the dead broke immigrants who come here to help their families survive. Do you think that being legal or illegal is at the top of their options when their own children are starving or in danger of harm to their lives? And to be right next door...shouldn't we be a bit embarrassed, or at least open to the ideas of helping.

RJ Johnson 1 year, 5 months ago

Federal law trumps City, County, and State laws!!

Plus you will lose your Federal funding. Something to think about before doing something that stupid!

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

Tell us how Federal law trumps Washington and Colorado marijuana laws.

RJ Johnson 1 year, 5 months ago

The Feds are still making arrests in those states for marijuana law violations. Granted it is for large qualities but they are still making arrests!

Scott Quenette 1 year, 5 months ago

What do the permanent residents think or does anyone care?

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 5 months ago

Nice to see all of the Donalds cousins chiming in this morning. Most of the US if not all are currently "sanctuary cities" meaning they are not arresting simply because of lack of citizenship proof . Most if not all of the US will prosecute and deport a non citizen if they are involved in a criminal matter and/or incarcerate them them here in the US.

Sooooooo....the whole country is and has been a sanctuary . Surprise , it has been that way since its inception . Jeez we have an illegal immigrant as first lady now. So have cup of coffee and chill out , they arent here to hurt you , they just want to work and live.

If you seriously think that you can just up and deport 12 million people overnight you are both cruel and delusional.

Nathan Anderson 1 year, 5 months ago

Not even Trump has suggested deporting 12 million people, so get off your high horse. Obama has deported over 2.5 million people, more than any other president in history and not a far cry from the 3 million that Trump is talking about. Also, Melania wasn't an illegal immigrant. She was doing paid work while in the US on a visitor visa, a month prior to receipt of her work visa. Apples and oranges but nice try.

John Kyle 1 year, 5 months ago

Wonderful to see the younger generation standing up for social justice! There is hope for us yet.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe, but my generation tried to do the same, and now I see people, who I never thought would be this way, become gun toting, racist, conservatives. It's like they just go with the latest fad, never mind values. They just go with the values that are "in" at the time.

Will White 1 year, 5 months ago

Are you saying conservatives = racists? I sure hope not

Kathleen Christian 1 year, 5 months ago

There is no hope in what they are proposing. This is a destruction of our Constitutional laws. I'm sorry these foreigners are living in horrible conditions, but that is not the fault of the US. America has no control over their government, however our government can intervene and suggest ways they can improve they way they treat their citizens, but America is not responsible for taking in the rest of the world. Not that America doesn't welcome others, there is a legal way these people can enter our country. If we keep on this path we will continue to jeopardize our American culture. I'm not willing to give that up to a few people who get their feelings hurt, because we won't change to their ways. This is the United States of America and charity begins at home first.

Nathan Anderson 1 year, 5 months ago

Explain how this is social justice, please. Is the US a sovereign nation that has a right to control the ingress and egress of noncitizens? How does social justice come into play when illegal immigrants give birth to US citizens, putting the government in a quandary about what to do with the parents? In an economy of stagnant wages and higher unemployment, particularly among low income workers, with many citizens simply leaving the work force because of a lack of job prospects, why is normalizing the introduction of noncitizen competitors for those jobs considered social justice? Do you realize that you're on the same side as big business on this issue? Do you care? Are any of you commenting in this thread among the millions of US workers making under $20k a year or are you virtue signalling from your white collar desk job?

Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

Rewarding criminal behavior is not social justice!

John Brazelton 1 year, 5 months ago

Go ahead Lawrence and break federal immigration law. See how fast Koboch gets your federal funds cut! I live in El Paso, TX, Down here in the Democratic part of Texas, they can bring the bulldozers in and push the all the trash back into the Rio Grande and back into Mexico. They can take all of the illegal drugs back with them.

Michael Dennis 1 year, 5 months ago

So against "big government" except when big government is doing what you want it to like deporting illegals, registering Muslims, restricting access to birth control, forcing ultrasounds on abortion seekers, protecting us from the rampant epidemic of voter fraud.

Progress will continue over time. That's what progress means. The progressive majority of the younger generation has the right idea. The crusty, insensitive, selfish, over privileged will die out. Just a matter of time until social justice prevails.

Enjoy the next few years of this ridiculous administration proving how utterly unequipped you are to rule in this complex world.

Kathleen Christian 1 year, 5 months ago

This is NOT progress...this is an invasion and these young people are being brain-washed into thinking this is a movement of progress. BULL!! Over government is not perfect, but I wouldn't trade it for any other. There are rotten apples in every basket and we have them here in our government. I have faith enough in our democracy that most will be tossed away. If you want perfection in justice seek the bible. It is unrealistic to think any government has the power to rule in perfection. There will always be something or someone missed or unhappy with decisions made. However, we need to count our blessings that we've not had a war in this land for a few hundred years, though we have criminal issues we still live in relative peace. I'd like to keep it that way.

Charlie Dominguez 1 year, 5 months ago

Geeze Lady, you really need to read more history.

Scott Burkhart 1 year, 5 months ago

Charlie, you need to read real history and not the Zinn revisionist version. I read one of your earlier statements and it is so full of misinterpretations and idiocy that I actually laughed out loud.

Nathan Anderson 1 year, 5 months ago

Not to take the side of conservatives, but I assume border security and controlling who enters and exits the country falls under the short list of responsibilities of their small government utopia.

Paul Beyer 1 year, 5 months ago

Would this mean we are allowed to vote for anyone not a trump supporter? Does this mean we are would be safe from the brownie's stupidity along with those of his supporters in the legislature?

Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

Had you been paying attention last month, you could have voted for anyone on the ballot, or even written in another name.

April Baker 1 year, 5 months ago

Pretty soon the old folks homes full of Trump supporters will be empty, the funeral parlor full, and the young children with green hair will be running this country.... The Bob's better run for the hills while they still have a chance, their people are dying en masse.

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 5 months ago

Having grown up and now living in Arizona we are aware that there is movement back and forth across the border all the time and there has been since before the spanish came thru. This latest "outrage" is simply political crapola stirred up by the likes Trump , now labeled as the biggest liar in politics history , to stir up the stupid and get them to the polls. Yeah its the hard truth. Im sure you're all pissed you cant work the 12hr hog killing shift out in the panhandle aren't you ? Crawl back in your holes.

David Holroyd 1 year, 5 months ago

The file photos of Ms. Larsen and Mr. Markus,,,are well,,,what can one say. Not two friendly looking folks I would want to be in a "sanctuary ' with...Can't the Journal World get some good pics of the two..maybe a Christmas makeoever?

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

I give.

Why do congenital Liberals want to flood Larryville with Liberal Criminal trespassers and demand citizen oversight of Police, when they can't even conduct a school board meeting without Liberal people called BLM disrupting it?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.