Kansas Governor Kelly Signs ‘Sanctuary City’ Bill, Dealing Harsh Blow to Immigration Activists

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly signed a Republican-backed bill on Monday that will thwart hard-fought efforts by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, to issue municipal IDs to residents unable to get legal photo IDs.

The UG’s “Safe and Welcoming Act,” which would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain municipal IDs, faced backlash from the state GOP.

Passed by the UG in February, the act also blocked local police from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities except in the case of threats to public safety or a warrant signed by a judge.

Kelly, who is up for re-election in November, said in a statement that she signed the statute because it is the responsibility of federal officials, not municipalities, to address our broken immigration system.

“Both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have failed to address immigration issues for decades,” Kelly said in the statement. “We need a national solution and we need it now.”

The law originated with Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who objected to the UG ordinance, saying Wyandotte County would become a “sanctuary jurisdiction for illegal immigrants,” and calling on the Legislature to ban sanctuary cities in the state.

Schmidt, who is expected to be the Republican candidate facing Kelly in November, suggested in a statement that she had little choice but to sign the bill.

“The veto-proof bipartisan support for this bill in the Legislature demonstrated its importance,” he said. “Under this new law, Kansas law enforcement will be able to resume working professionally with federal immigration authorities … and not be silenced by a patchwork of local sanctuary city gag orders.”

The push to pass Safe and Welcoming lasted five years, with vocal protests occurring throughout three different mayoral administrations.

Supporters of the act have said that proof of identity is required for many essential activities, including health care, job applications, enrolling children in school and cashing a check.

By Laura Ziegler
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