TOPEKA — Kansas joined Arizona on the front lines of one of Americas hottest political debates Thursday when conservative state leaders introduced legislation targeting illegal immigrants.
Modeled after Arizonas controversial law on illegal immigration, the bill proposes several measures to deal with a problem that supporters contend the federal government has too long ignored. The proposed legislation would:
Require local police to check the legal status of those they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally.
Require proof of citizenship for anyone seeking public assistance.
Make it illegal to harbor illegal residents and bolster the penalties for making fake identifications.
Insist that state and local governments and their contractors run citizenship checks on all new hires.
Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican, wrote the bill with Secretary of State Kris Kobach, also a Republican. Both said the bill took some provisions of Arizonas law known as SB 1070 and added other pieces from earlier proposals in Kansas.
Kobach helped write the Arizona law. Many of its provisions were blocked by the federal courts. Still, Kobach said he thinks the Kansas bill is on solid legal ground.
Kobach predicted the bill would pass, thanks to last Novembers election, which put more conservatives in the Legislature and Republican Sam Brownback in the governors office. Brownback has yet to weigh in on the bill.
I heard from many, many constituents last fall that Kansas needs an SB-1070-style bill in Kansas, Kobach said. The political climate has become much more receptive to these types of proposals.
With anti-illegal sentiment running high across the nation, lawmakers in several other states also are looking to implement parts or all of the Arizona law. In addition, Kansas lawmakers are considering repealing a state law granting in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants and requiring voters to show identification to crack down on illegal immigrant voter fraud.
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