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Kansas City mayor looking at migrants as option to meet workforce demands

Mayor says concept is for migrants with lawful work permits
mayor quinton lucas.png
Posted at 4:37 PM, Apr 18, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, may soon facilitate bringing more migrants to the city to meet workforce demands. Mayor Quinton Lucas said he’s interested in bringing people to the city with lawful work permits. He said this concept is not a nationwide immigration policy solution.

“There are a few very simple things that I think are a bit confused by folks: One, we already have a system where you have to be lawfully present to get a lawful work permit that is part of how you’re in Kansas City,” Lucas pointed out. “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 said he attended a meeting Thursday where ogranizers highlighted $8 billion in infrastructure and construction projects coming to the Kansas City region. Lucas added he’s heard about staffing shortages from several contractors and other businesses.

“If you talk to businesses each and every day - whether it’s a restaurant, a school, a police department, so many others - they’re saying we want to make sure we’re bringing more workers here to Kansas City and the Kansas City metro region,” Lucas pointed out.

In response to criticisms that migrants would take jobs from Kansas Citians or negatively impact current salaries of Kansas City-based employees, Lucas compared this concept to an American relocating from Ohio for a job in Kansas City.

“If there was somebody from Toledo who was looking for a job and we said, ‘Hey, we have a great job in Kansas City,’ I don’t know that you’d have a problem. If there’s somebody who’s lawfully present in the United States, I don’t actually see why we’re treating them all differently,” Lucas said.

In an article first published by Bloomberg News, Lucas said he’s been in touch with mayors in New York City and Denver about bringing migrants from those cities to Kansas City.

Last month the city approved a $2.3 billion budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year which sets aside $1 million for a new refugee and immigrant services program.