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Immigration attorney reacts to area commissioners not supporting migrant workers in KC

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Posted at 2:16 AM, Apr 22, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The presiding commissioners of Clay and Platte counties sent a letter to Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas over the weekend asking him to withdraw his offer of jobs and taxpayer-funded services to migrants. 

“I understand that there are people whose hearts go out to these individuals. Mine does as well in many cases. However, the law is the law,” said Commissioner Jerry Nolte, of Clay County. “We cannot bring people into this community in very large numbers without harming the citizens that we have here. Those citizens that are here and those immigrants who came here via legal means.” 

Nolte said he and other commissioners are concerned about the stress an influx of people could put on local government, police, schools and healthcare.

He added people looking to obtain a work permit should do so legally.

“If we are just going to hand them out without any vetting, that's to say if the federal government is going to hand them out without any vetting or any other research or any other qualifications, they become relatively meaningless,” Nolte said.

Thursday, Mayor Lucas told KSHB 41 the migrant workers Kansas City would accept do have work permits.

“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, and a lot of what we do is to make sure there are things like housing and social services to support them,” Lucas said. 

Immigration attorney Valerie Sprout said this distinction marks a huge difference between legal and illegal immigration status.

“It would be impossible for someone to come to Kansas City under the mayor's plan who does not have work authorization,” Sprout said. “It is not going to be a danger to the community. These are people who have already been fingerprinted, they've been vetted, they've gone through a security check as a part of applying for this immigration benefit, especially if they have a work authorization, so if these are bad actors, they won't be coming to Kansas City.” 

But Nolte said he is asking the mayor to reconsider his invitation.

“We do not choose to be sanctuary cities or sanctuary communities, but we will welcome those who obey our laws and come into this country through legal means,” Nolte said.

Kansas City Councilman Nathan Willett drafted a resolution to help ensure Kansas City won't become a sanctuary city.

The earliest public discussion could be held on that resolution would be Tuesday.