TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers dealt a setback Monday to a plan that would clamp down on illegal immigration in a way that’s similar to a controversial Arizona law.
The House Judiciary Committee voted against advancing the hotly debated proposal pushed by Olathe Republican Rep. Lance Kinzer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Described by critics as “grossly broad,” the measure would require police to check the legal status of those they suspect might be in the United States illegally.
It also would require state and local governments and their contractors to run citizenship checks on new hires and require proof of citizenship for anyone seeking public aid.
The fate of the bill was not clear late Monday. Kinzer was unavailable for comment after the committee tabled it. But one critic of the legislation said it could come up again.
The debate Monday centered on police running citizenship checks based on “reasonable suspicion” and how the law might affect charities that receive state grants.
State Rep. Pat Colloton, a Leawood Republican, was the most outspoken critic of the bill, partly because of the fallout it might have on charities that don’t comply with the law. She also faulted the low legal standard that would trigger citizenship checks.
“I think there’s serious constitutional problems with it,” Colloton said. “I absolutely think that the police stopping people on reasonable suspicion is an invitation to racial profiling.”
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