Archive for Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lawrence City Commission to respond to requests to declare sanctuary city status

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., Thursday, July 7, 2016

March 5, 2017


Following calls from students for Lawrence to declare itself a sanctuary community, the City Commission will decide at its meeting Tuesday exactly what kind of statement to make.

After reviewing the requests since December, city staff determined that nearly $50 million in state and federal funding is at stake and are recommending several steps, including proclaiming Lawrence as a “welcoming” city for immigrants. The draft proclamation states that the safety of all people should be protected, but does not use the term "sanctuary."

As part of the meeting Tuesday, the commission will decide whether to adopt the proclamation, and if any revisions should be made. Mayor Leslie Soden said the financial implications are part of the decision.

“Declaring ourselves a sanctuary city has any number of ramifications that we need to bear in mind,” Soden said. “It’s not something that we want to do flippantly.”

The requests from the students of Lawrence High School and the University of Kansas came on the heels of the election of President Donald Trump. Following up on campaign promises, Trump issued an executive order to ramp up immigration enforcement. The order threatens to withhold federal funds from sanctuary communities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration agencies.

The one-page draft proclamation states, in part, that the city is “an inclusive community that thrives on the diversity of backgrounds that inhabit it, and that the safety of all people should be protected regardless of their background, race, religion, or country of origin.”

Soden said the discussion is one the City Commission needs to have.

“I feel very strongly that government should provide leadership in showing the values of our community, so I feel this is a topic that is appropriate for community discussion,” Soden said.

There is no legal definition of a sanctuary community, and thus far, neither Lawrence nor Douglas County has been labeled as such on any of the numerous lists that are kept. Local law enforcement agencies have previously told the Journal-World that they don’t ask for someone’s immigration status unless there is a compelling reason to do so, and they do not honor 48-hour detainer holds from federal immigration agencies.

A Journal-World review found those practices are similar to other jurisdictions that have been labeled by some as sanctuary communities. The order gives the secretary of homeland security the discretion to designate sanctuary jurisdictions and deem them ineligible to receive federal grants.

“With the new presidential administration, it seems to be very clear that tolerance of other cultures, religions and people of color is not quite celebrated the way that we feel they should be here in Lawrence,” Soden said.

There are also potential ramifications of making a sanctuary declaration on the state level. Last month, a bill was introduced in the Kansas Legislature that would authorize state police to enforce federal immigration laws. At the same time, another bill was introduced that closely mirrored parts of Trump’s executive order. The bill proposes to ban Kansas cities and counties from adopting sanctuary policies and threatens to withhold state grants from jurisdictions that do.

As part of the meeting, the commission will also receive a report by city attorneys that outlines how the city could be affected financially by the executive order and the state Legislature, should it pass. The city would jeopardize more than $42.7 million in funds remitted to the city by the state and $6.1 million in federal grants by declaring itself a sanctuary city, according to the report.

Along with the proclamation of Lawrence as a welcoming city are five other recommendations from staff of supportive actions the city can take. Those include authorizing staff to write letters of opposition to the pending state legislation and directing staff to work with KU to co-sponsor a community presentation on immigration law.

The City Commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


CommonSense8 1 year, 1 month ago

Statistics show that sanctuary cities have increases in violent crime. I believe once Los Angeles declared themselves a sanctuary city, their homicides went up by 10 percent. I hope the safety of this town is considered. Also, that's a lot of lost money. I will absolutely not pay any more taxes to recoup the lost grant money should this decision go through

Chris Phillips 1 year, 1 month ago

Statistics being what they are can be open to a wide interpretation. I would be interested in reviewing them myself to confirm this before agreeing or disagreeing to your statement. Can you point me to the statistics that show this information? I would appreciate the information greatly. Thanks!

Bob Summers 1 year, 1 month ago

Liberals destroy societies.

Look at Detroit.

Who murdered Kate Steinle?

Aside from that, Lawrence would be perfect location for as many criminals, "wise Latinas and hard working Latinos", as possible. House them in the library. I'm sure the Liberal will make sure they are fed. The T can ferry them around town to view the interesting sites.

Bob Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

Harboring criminals in Lawrence. What could go wrong? /snark/

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

In all seriousness, this literally turns my stomach.

Chris Anderson 1 year, 1 month ago

I found an explanation by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti -- about an earlier interview in which he hesitated to use the term "sanctuary city" even while sincerely promoting pro-immigrant policies -- very interesting and informative. Basically, he said that there is no legal or regulatory definition of sanctuary city, and hence to self-declare LA as one would only be to play into the hands of ant-immigrant policy makers who want to impose punitive sanctions. Instead, better to have a city government culture and set of policies that manifest the compassionate common sense notions associated with sanctuary cities, but without using that term explicitly.

That is what Lawrence city government should do: go about our own business in a compassionate and common sense way without making the city government itself a target for the vile anti-immigrant vitriol emanating from Washington, DC or Topeka. Better to stand up for what we believe by doing what we believe in day in and day out than to grandstand in a manner that might only hurt us and lead to constraints in the future.

Now, I would at the same time be in favor in having as many elements of civil society make formal statements of pro-immigrant policies as possible. Let's strive to get every house of worship in Lawrence, every Rotary Club, etc., join in a statement of values about the kind of community we are.

Brock Masters 1 year, 1 month ago

Chris you are obviously a victim of fake news since you believe there is vile anti-immigrant vitriol emanating from DC and Topeka.

I have read strong anti-statements about ILLEGAL immigration but no vile statements or policies regarding legal immigration.

Perhaps you can share reliable sources showing such statements from our policy makers. If you can I will join you in condemning them.

Chris Anderson 1 year, 1 month ago

What I consider to be vile and vitriolic are policies based on irrational fears (e.g., fear of crime (illegal immigrants actually commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born citizens) and terrorism (native-grown terrorists are a greater threat to public safety than visitors from the seven nations singled out by Trump's court-suspended executive order)) or that use fear as a weapon or that break up families.

My news comes from sources such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, the Atlantic, NPR, PBS, CNN, etc. My eyes and ears are wide open, and I call it as I see it -- as a pro-immigrant Republican.

Brock Masters 1 year, 1 month ago

You said statements about immigration - immigration and illegal immigration are two different things.

Keep in mind, every illegal immigrant, with the exception of children or others brought here against their will, has committed one crime against our country.

Not to put words in your mouth, but you seem to believe enforcing the immigration laws that are on the books are vile.

Fear doesn't break up families, parents committing crimes break up families.

Clara Westphal 1 year, 1 month ago

Declaring Lawrence as a sanctuary city is a bad idea. Too much to lose and not much to gain.

Rich Noever 1 year, 1 month ago

Why don't we let the students run the city. They can have their weekly meeting right after recess.

Jeff Darby 1 year, 1 month ago

Next time my cousin robs a bank I am going to move him into my house and arbitrarily declare my house a "sanctuary house" and not allow the feds to come in and apprehend him.

Bob Summers 1 year, 1 month ago

Those all for "compassionate common sense notions", housing criminals in the Library and Chris Anderson's back yard.

Those for: Aye

Those opposed:

Chris Anderson 1 year, 1 month ago

Do we want an immigrant community fearful of the city's police and therefore hesitant to cooperate with them or even report crimes of which they are victims, or for the sake of public safety for all of us do we want our police to be as effective as possible? That's an example of what I mean as a compassionate common sense notion.

Bob Summers 1 year, 1 month ago

Stow your "do we want an Immigrant community" mate.

The question is, since half the population of club America lives off the other half, do we want the paying half, paying even more for people added to the half they are already paying for? Or, pay the same, giving each of the non paying members less? Or, close the doors to the club and not allow anymore members in the club living off the paying members?

These criminals, not the vaunted Liberal code word "immigrants", invade America for the benefits. The free ride in the club.

Us paying members are too poor to continue to add people to the club that do not pay and play for free.

John Lee 1 year, 1 month ago

"invade America for the benefits. The free ride in the club." -Bob Summers

Isn't that the whole point of our country?

Gary Hawke 1 year, 1 month ago

Yes, let's clarify ILLEGAL immigrants, not Legal immigrants are what we are talking about. How can the city possibly decide what federal laws they will follow and which ones they will not. They have to follow ALL of them. Let's not let students decide what the city will do. Be part of the decision, not the ultimate voice.

Richard Aronoff 1 year, 1 month ago

And let's not forget that the seemingly "innocent" immigrants who have been splashed all over the news were picked up by ICE because they had deportation orders handed down by the Obama administration that they ignored.

Martin Brody 1 year, 1 month ago

Sanctuary cities are a heartless idea. Instead of trying to sweep these people under a rug in order to hide them, how about taking steps to help them acquire citizenship. A sanctuary city is a band-aid that offers no real help for those affected as it doesn't change their status. Many of us find it odd when we hear of a person who is at risk for deportation....after spending 20 years in the USA. Activists should drop the idea of sanctuary cities and focus their efforts on streamlining the citizenship process. Help these people become legal, tax-paying Americans instead of encouraging them to continue living in the shadows.

Bob Summers 1 year, 1 month ago

Wonderful idea "streamlining" Only problem is, these criminals do not want to assimilate. They are here for the free stuff like the half of the population that is already on the public dole.

"streamlining" is a Liberal fantasy.

Bob Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

" about taking steps to help them acquire citizenship..." Such as the federal laws that have been on the books for years? Illegal aliens don't obey the law.

Martin Brody 1 year, 1 month ago

That's my point, chief. If the activist community truly cared about these people they would assist them to get citizenship using available means instead of helping them continue to break the law.

David Reynolds 1 year, 1 month ago

I hope the commissioner will respect the rule of law and use this as a teaching moment to tell the youth of our city and university, we citizens can't pick & choose the laws we want to support.

We citizens of Lawrence can & do respect everyone. We just ask they be in the USA legally.

Immigration is a complicated issue. Illegal Alien is not a complicated issue.

Most of those requesting Lawrence announce as a Sanctuary City do not have a long term vested interest in Lawrence. Thus they do not have to live with the decision the city makes.

We should not succumb to such demands.

Again, this us a teaching moment. It will be interesting to see if the city chooses to show the world we are law abiding.

Jeffry Helms 1 year, 1 month ago

Does Douglas county need a La Sinaloa, hiv/aids baby pumping, huge medical bill, worse crime cheering squad??????? Kansas already billion$$ in debt already---the medical comes right out of the state and local taxes--I don't think "sanctuary" has a executive salary job to pay taxes for their medical bills.

David Reynolds 1 year, 1 month ago

Just for clarity. The term illegal immigrant is an oxymoron.

By definition an immigrant is in the USA legally.

The correct term is Illegal Alien.

John Brazelton 1 year, 1 month ago

To the most liberal city in Kansas, if the city council declares Lawrence as a sanctuary city, I hope the federal government cuts all federal funds. If you want to defend criminals (yes, each illegal alien is a criminal), then pay for them without help from other federal taxpayers.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow. It sure looks like a lot of commenters here haven't read the staff report. Otherwise, I can't imagine why they're so concerned.

David Reynolds 1 year, 1 month ago

Melinda I have read the proclamation.

It is purposefully vague & significantly missing a key point.

It does not include any positive/specific reference to being law abiding.

The emphasis on "Welcoming" can be, and is open to interpretation. Are we welcoming only "Legal" persons or do we welcome, and thus protect, both "Legal & Illegal" persons?

Stacey Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

There is a lot of good discussion here. I would strongly suggest those of you who live in Lawrence show up at tonight's city commission meeting and let your voices be heard. They've so far listened to students, they need to hear from tax paying residents as well.

David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

From recent articles in the Lawrence Journal World, the city of Lawrence is and has been a sanctuary city. It has harbored developers under scrutiny for tax schemes, mayors for embezzlement, even commissioners for forging deals for kickbacks for developments aka kickbacks for money for affordable housing.

btw, how's the discussion going with mediation of the Fritzel scheme? Would the good Mr. Markus have the guts to lead the commission into a courtroom and then depositons follow from many of the parties in the above mentioned "deals".

Snarky, yours truly, 3/7/2017

John Lee 1 year, 1 month ago

Looks like the kid committed a crime before acquiring citizenship, and is no longer eligible for any "low-priority" treatment in deportation. Mission: Accomplished, right?

Regardless, he is obviously mental, which is by far not limited to illegal aliens, or whatever you'd like to call them. Would you vouch for the kid in some way if he were a documented US citizen?

Fred Henderson 1 year, 1 month ago

I think the City Commissioners are remembering who and where the riots started and the Student Union burning, and they don't have the capacity to stand up and tell the younger version of these progressive socialist groups that they won't give into their demands. Will these same young people be here after their education is finished? Maybe, maybe not, but the rest of Lawrence citizens will be living with decisions made to satisfy someone else's demands.

Jason Johnson 1 year, 1 month ago

If you know of someone who is an illegal alien, here's the ICE tip website and phone number:


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