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Defining terms of KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas' migrant concept

KSHB 41 looks at definitions of migrant, other terms
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Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 22, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Opinions are swirling about a plan from Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Last week, the mayor told a national outlet he’d like to welcome migrants to the city to help fill shortages in the workforce.

Opponents argue the mayor’s idea is illegal.

KSHB 41 News is looking at what is known about the mayor’s proposal to help guide the conversation over its legality.

Lucas has repeatedly used the word "migrant" to describe the people he’s interested in bringing to Kansas City.

A migrant is someone who moves locations in search of work.

“Any time you mention migration or migrants, you see issues — and I’ve seen videos of people coming across the southern border — that is not what I’m talking about or what Kansas City is talking about,” Lucas told KSHB 41 News last week. “What we are talking about is those who are lawfully present here having an opportunity to work, having an opportunity to be part of our community.”

An immigrant is someone who moves to permanently live in a foreign country.

In letters to Lucas, the Missouri attorney general and presiding commissioners from Clay and Platte counties used the term "illegal immigrants" to describe the people they think Lucas is targeting.

An undocumented immigrant is someone who comes to the country without a visa, inspection or documents.

There are several pathways for these undocumented immigrants to get permission to remain in the country.

Those include the asylum and parole processes. Another option for immigrants who can’t return to their home countries because of war or disasters could be temporary protective status.

Once an immigrant gets permission to be in the United States, they can almost always get permission to work in the country even before a judge hears their case.

Missouri AG Andrew Bailey sued the federal government, arguing some of these policies are illegal. The case is pending.

Valerie Sprout, an immigration attorney in Overland Park, said even with lawsuits pending, federal immigration laws are still the law of the land.

“I’m hard-pressed to think of a status where you have permission to stay in the United States but you don’t have permission to work,” Sprout said.

Another term many people have brought up while arguing against Lucas’ plan is the term "sanctuary city." A sanctuary city is a city whose police department does not work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and instead essentially protects all immigrants.

In Missouri, the law allows the state to withhold funding for sanctuary cities.

The KC City Council's Special Committee for Legal Review will discuss a resolution confirming Kansas City is not and will not become a sanctuary city at a meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Nathan Willett sponsored the resolution.

“I think it’s pretty clear to put on record we’re following state statute and we’re going to follow the state law,” Willett explained.