Kansas attorney general, Johnson County DA to confer on Supreme Court immigrant cases

Justices return from recess during hearings before the Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka, Kan., Thursday, May 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

? Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe conferred by telephone Monday about how to respond to a series of Kansas Supreme Court decisions released Friday that limit the state’s ability to prosecute undocumented immigrants for certain crimes.

The cases dealt with three individuals who were prosecuted in Johnson County in 2012 for identity theft and for making false writings after they used other people’s Social Security numbers to obtain employment.

In a set of connected 5-2 rulings, the state’s high court threw out their convictions, saying their prosecutions under state law were entirely pre-empted by federal immigration law.

Both Schmidt and Howe declined to comment on the cases Monday. On Friday, both men issued brief, one-sentence statements saying they planned to study the decisions to determine whether there was anything they could do.

Schmidt’s office said in an email Monday that “our review continues and, of course, includes coordination with the district attorney’s office. We have no further information to add at this time.”

Some, however, have said the decisions will make it harder for local law enforcement agencies to combat illegal immigration in their communities. Among those was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who issued a statement Friday calling the rulings “poorly reasoned decisions.”

But state Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, an attorney, said the decisions were consistent with American legal principles.

“It is a long-standing doctrine that the federal government has pre-empted the field of immigration; it is a federal responsibility, and the application of state laws that conflict with the federal scheme is not permissible,” Carmichael said.

Gregory Bole, an attorney who practices immigration law in Kansas City, Kan., said such cases are fairly common for undocumented immigrants.

“If you come here undocumented and you want to work, your options are that you can have your own business, you can work under the table for cash, or procure false documents so you’re able to fill out an I-9 and receive a check, be on a payroll,” Bole said.

Attorneys for the Kansas Appellate Defender’s office did not return phone calls Monday seeking information about what eventually happened to the three defendants in the cases.