Politics & Government

Kansas illegal immigration bill may be dead

TOPEKA — A major immigration bill similar to a controversial Arizona law suffered a potentially fatal blow Wednesday when the Kansas House refused to consider the measure.

The House voted 84-40 to kill a last-ditch effort to bypass a committee where the bill had been bottled up by opponents for a couple of weeks.

“Today’s action makes it much less likely the bill will pass this session, but it doesn’t make the issue will go away,” said Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write the bill.

Kobach’s bill is the second piece of major immigration legislation that has run into roadblocks this session.

Last week, a Senate committee killed a bill that would have denied in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants at Kansas universities, colleges and trade schools.

The Kobach measure, described by critics as “grossly broad,” 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.

Supporters contended that the law was needed to deal with an estimated 90,000 illegal immigrants in Kansas.

The problem was compounded because Kansas’ neighbors Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri have taken steps to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Failure to act would lead Kansas to become a magnet for illegal immigration, Kobach has argued.

Opponents, however, maintain that the measure would stretch already overworked police, prove costly to businesses, and pose an administrative nightmare for workers who provide health services.

Wyandotte County officials, for example, called the bill an unworkable, expensive, unfunded mandate that cities and counties couldn’t afford and were ill-equipped to carry out.

The bill was never able to get out of the House Judiciary Committee, which was led by Rep. Lance Kinzer, the bill’s co-author. The Olathe Republican said he was disappointed with the outcome.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.