Kan. lawmakers target illegal immigration

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Workers at Tyson Foods Inc.'s Holcomb, Kan., meat packing plant made a shift change Feb. 1. Lawmakers in Kansas are drafting bills targeting undocumented workers in a state where thousands of immigrants have settled to work in livestock feed yards and meatpacking plants. (Charlie Riedel ~ Associated Press)

WICHITA, Kan. -- Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Kansas are drafting separate bills targeting illegal immigration amid fears about a potential influx of illegal immigrants from neighboring states that have already started cracking down.

Across the nation, at least 127 cities and states have passed or are considering local laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration, according to a database compiled by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a project of the Center for Community Change, an immigrant advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

In Kansas, some people are concerned that illegal immigrants may move here from the neighboring states of Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri, which have passed laws or instituted policies aimed at illegal immigration.

Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, is drafting a proposal based on laws in Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado, Landwehr said. It would revoke business licenses and impose civil penalties on any Kansas business found to have employed an illegal immigrant, enforce federal law denying public benefits to illegal immigrants and strengthen local enforcement efforts.

The measure also would impose civil and criminal penalties on illegal immigrants and prohibit Kansas municipalities from becoming "sanctuary cities" by opting out of state immigration reform, she said.

Among Democrats, Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, is circulating a measure that would focus on employers who hire illegal immigrants, imposing state penalties for businesses that do and giving county prosecutors the power to enforce the law.

Her proposal also would revoke state licenses for employers caught knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, require more state reporting by employers and limit tax breaks that employers who hire illegal workers can claim on their state tax returns.

"It is clear we need more workers in Kansas, but we need them to be legal, earning a fair wage and paying taxes in Kansas," Mah said.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: