Legislation To Ban Sanctuary Policies Introduced After Kansas County Passes Sanctuary Ordinance
FAIR Take | March 2022
The commissioners of the Unified Government (UG) of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas adopted an expansive sanctuary ordinance by a vote of 6-4 on February 10. In response, the state’s attorney general (AG) called on the state legislature to ban policies like this one. On February 22, House Bill (HB) 2217 banning sanctuary policies was introduced.
Before Wyandotte County and Kansas City adopted their sanctuary ordinance, there were several sanctuary jurisdictions in Kansas. In 2018, FAIR identified Butler County, Shawnee County and the city of Wichita as sanctuary jurisdictions because they did not honor detainers. FAIR has since added the cities of Lawrence and Roeland Park. However, the new sanctuary policy adopted by Wyandotte County is much broader than the previous sanctuary policies.
County Commissioner Mike Kane, who voted against the ordinance, said it was “unfair” for Mayor Tyrone Garner “to spring the vote on commissioners and the public,” adding that something this important should instead have been put on the ballot for the county’s voters to decide.
Other ordinance opponents argued it was unfair and discriminatory, would increase human trafficking, and would generally make the community less safe.
Kansas AG Derek Schmidt (R) immediately condemned the Wyandotte ordinance and called for the legislature to enact a statewide ban on sanctuary policies. He said, “it is unwise to inject a patchwork of local immigration politics into law enforcement activities in this manner, particularly at a time when the Biden administration continues to fail in its duty to secure our southern border. It is possible to welcome immigrants without ordering the police to ignore the law. … Every Kansan who visits Kansas City for shopping, dining, health care, recreation or any other purpose deserves to know that the local police department can fully participate in enforcement of applicable law and is not arbitrarily obliged to turn a blind eye to particular illegal activity merely because local politicians have demanded it.”
At AG Schmidt’s urging, a bill was introduced (HB 2717) in the Kansas legislature to prohibit sanctuary policies. In addition to banning sanctuary policies, the bill provides an enforcement mechanism that authorizes the AG and local county and district attorneys to sue for injunctions to enforce the ban.
Since the bill was introduced later in the session, there is a possibility there will not be enough time for it to advance before the legislature adjourns. HB 2717 has been assigned to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. On February 24, the Committee’s Chairman, Representative John Barker (R-Abilene) said “he had not yet read the bill and wasn’t sure if he would grant it a hearing in the last half of the Legislative session.”
A veto by Governor Laura Kelly (D) is expected since she has previously vetoed other immigration-enforcement-related bills, including an E-Verify bill included in the 2021 state budget. However, Republicans could override her veto since they have a veto-proof majority. They currently outnumber Democrats 86-39 in the House of Representatives and 29-11 in the Senate.