Kansas Becomes an Anti-Sanctuary State
FAIR Take | April 2022
Kansas recently joined the ranks of states that have passed anti-sanctuary laws. Democrat Governor Laura Kelly signed House Bill (HB) 2717 into law on April 11. There are fifteen other states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) that have anti-sanctuary laws.
Governor Kelly’s signature on the anti-sanctuary legislation is surprising but appears to be politically motivated since she is up for re-election. Her most likely opponent, Kansas Attorney General (AG) Derek Schmidt (R), had been the one who first called on the state legislature to enact anti-sanctuary legislation.
HB 2717 was also supported by the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, the Kansas Sheriffs Association, and the Kansas Peace Officers Association. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said the support of the law enforcement officers’ associations was “based on the need to engage and cooperate with federal enforcement action against those who are harming others in our communities.”
HB 2717 bars local governments from “enacting, implementing or enforcing an ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that prohibits or in any way restricts” law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The bill would make these sanctuary policies null and void.
Although Gov. Kelly has contradicted her party before, many Democrats expressed shock at her signing the anti-sanctuary bill. State Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City) said her actions constituted “a kick in the teeth.”
While Gov. Kelly did not formally take a position on the anti-sanctuary bill prior to signing it into law, she did publicly say that she was “a staunch supporter, whenever possible, of allowing local units of government to make decisions that they feel are the best interest of their community.”
In signing the bill, Gov. Kelly clearly saw the writing on the wall. Kansas was poised to become an anti-sanctuary state regardless of her actions. Both the House and Senate had passed HB 2717 by more than the two-thirds supermajorities needed to override any possible veto by her.