Commission to Consider Safe & Welcoming City Act
Published on February 04, 2022
On Monday, January 24, 2022 at the Public Safety Standing Committee, the Commissioners heard and advanced a propose Safe & Welcoming City Act to the Board of Commissioners. The Full Commission will consider the Safe & Welcoming Act on Thursday, February 10, 2022.
The Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte, a coalition of community members and organizations advocating for policies that are more inclusive for undocumented immigrants proposed this Act. The Legal Department and coalition worked collaboratively to address legal concerns and draft a document that avoids unintended legal consequences concerning federal grant requirements, local-federal task forces, the while still embracing the spirit of the original proposal.
The Legal Department expressed concern about a prior version of this ordinance because it could have conflicted with certain requirements of federal grants, been detrimental to local-federal task forces, exceeded the Commission’s authority over the Sheriff’s Office’s policies, or violated federal law. Those concerns have been addressed in the current version. The Legal Department approves this Act as to form, and the Safe and Welcoming Coalition requests that the Commission enact it.
Summary of the Act
There are two parts of the proposed policy. Part One includes several provisions:
Local resources for local purposes
This is to ensure that our local resources are not being used for the enforcement of federal immigration law.
Treatment of Immigration Information
Other than for purposes such as hiring, where immigration status is required, this is to ensure that the Unified Government does not unnecessarily collect immigration data. It also ensures that once immigration information is collected that it is only disclosed as required by law. The Unified Government has worked closely with Safe & Welcoming Wyandotte to develop the necessary carveouts to preserve law enforcement functions, federal grants, comply with federal law, and stay within the authority of the Unified Government.
This provision is to ensure that everyone has access to translation services when appearing before the Municipal Court. This is a service that we are already required to provide but this helps to codify the intent of ensuring proceedings are accessible to non-English speakers.
The Safe & Welcoming Act also states that the Unified Government will prevent the discrimination of our residents based on non-citizen status or immigration status.
The second part of the proposed Safe & Welcoming Act covers a Community ID program.
To clarify, the Community ID program is different from the Municipal ID program under KCKPD, launched in 2021. The Municipal ID program is targeted to meet the needs of the unhoused population and others in transition. The Community ID program is designed to assist undocumented immigrants who cannot obtain state-issued IDs because they lack key documents. The Community ID would only be valid in the City of Kansas City, KS so that residents can access services. Area businesses may also opt-in to accepting the Community ID as a valid ID but that is up to the individual businesses.
Watch the Standing Committee Presentation & Public Comment
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the goals of the Safe & Welcoming Ordinance?
There are several goals of the Safe & Welcoming Ordinance, including:
- To foster trust between the community and the Unified Government.
- To increase accessibility of Unified Government services.
- To ensure local resources are used for local purposes.
- To improve quality of life for undocumented community members and their families.
- To comply with state and federal law.
How did we get here?
The Safe and Welcoming Coalition (more information is available at wycoid.org) approached the Unified Government in 2018 with a proposal to create a municipal ID and an “ICE non-compliance” ordinance.
A review of the proposed ordinance revealed some legal concerns. These included possible conflicts with federal grant requirements and federal law that could impeded law enforcement operations.
On May 28, 2020, the Commission held a special session to learn more about these issues. This meeting was open to the public. Following the special session, staff researched similar ordinances in other cities and developed a proposed ordinance modeled off Roeland Park’s ordinance. The Commission held a second special session on January 28, 2021 at which the ordinance proposed by staff was presented. The Coalition expressed concerns about the proposed ordinance. This meeting was open to the public.
After the second special session, the Legal Department and the Safe and Welcoming Coalition met regularly to discuss changes to the originally proposed ordinance that would alleviate legal concerns from the perspective of the Unified Government.
The Act as currently proposed would not cause the Unified Government to break the law. The Commission now has the ability to decide whether it is desirable policy or not.
Have any other Kansas cities passed a similar ordinance?
Yes, Roeland Park and Lawrence have both passed similar ordinances.
What happens next?
The Act passed Standing Committee on January 24, 2022. Now it will advance to the Full Commission for a vote on February 10, 2022.
The Commission may vote yes or no or hold the item over.
Does the Safe and Welcoming City Act require the Unified Government to violate state or federal law?
Which parts of the Unified Government are affected by the Safe and Welcoming City Act?
The Act only applies to the City of Kansas City, Kansas and departments under control of the Board of County Commissioners. This means that it does not apply to the cities of Edwardsville or Bonner Springs. It does not apply to offices under the control of elected officials, like the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Register of Deeds, or the Election Office.
The Act states that the Board of Public Utilities may require identification in addition to the Community ID. The Act does not change anything about setting up, maintaining, or paying for utilities in Wyandotte County.
Does this Act make the Unified Government a “Sanctuary City”?
Although the term “Sanctuary City” is not defined and is broadly used, it often refers to a city that has stated that it will not comply with or communicate with federal immigration enforcement. This Act does not apply to the Sheriff’s Office, and it does not require the police department to violate any federal laws. The police department is still able to communicate with federal immigration enforcement regarding criminal investigations.
Does this Act mean that no one in Wyandotte County will be deported?
No. Federal agencies may still enforce federal law, including immigration law, in Wyandotte County.
How much will this cost?
The Safe and Welcoming portion of the Act will cost nothing to implement.
To implement the Community ID portion of the Act, the Unified Government will issue a request for proposals to seek a non-profit entity to run the program. Staff will review proposals for the best fit and value. It is possible that fees will cover the costs of administering the program and that there will be no budget impact. Staff previously estimated that the program could cost $140,000.00. This is an estimate. The Unified Government has not issued a Request for Proposals or received any cost proposals at this time.
The Act does not require extensive retraining or significant changes to documents or the website. To the extent that training or revisions are needed, they can be accomplished with relatively minimal staff time.
How will this be funded?
No funds have been spent on the proposed ordinance to date. No one has promised the Unified Government any funding if the ordinance passes.
The Unified Government will solicit proposals from non-profit entities to run the Community ID program. Those proposals will include cost proposals. It is possible that the program will be self-funded by fees.
How will this affect federal grants?
The Act will not affect federal grants.
How will Community IDs work?
The Unified Government will issue a Request for Proposals for a non-profit entity to administer the program. The selected non-profit will then enter into a contract with the Unified Government to provide that service.
It will be up to the non-profit to determine whether documentation presented to support the ID application is valid. If an applicant presents fraudulent ID, the applicant may be criminally or civilly liable.
Unified Government departments, other than the BPU, will accept the Community ID as proof of identity unless federal or state law requires a state or federally issued ID. Community ID does not function as a driver’s license and does not authorize a person to drive.
Businesses and other government entities may choose to accept Community ID or they may choose not to.
Will the Safe and Welcoming City Act affect housing or population?
The Safe and Welcoming City Act is not expected to affect population growth in Wyandotte County. The Act is not expected to increase the demand for housing, schools, or hospitals.
Will the Safe and Welcoming Act affect crime?
The Act is not expected to cause or enable human trafficking. The Act does not affect anyone’s ability to report suspected human trafficking or law enforcement’s ability to investigate it.
Even without the Act, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department does not view itself as an enforcer of federal immigration law. Its General Order No. 40.18 on Undocumented Persons/ Foreign Nationals was adopted in 2017 and states “Officers of this Department have no lawful authority to enforce immigration laws. The involvement of this department is limited to situations independent of immigration enforcement, which is the responsibility of DHS.”
To the extent that the Act increases the willingness of undocumented community members to report crime and cooperate with law enforcement, it may have the effect of reducing crime.
Can I drive legally with a Community ID?
Community ID does not function as a driver’s license and does not authorize a person to drive.
Can I vote with a Community ID?
No, it does not allow anyone voting rights they do not already have. The eligibility requirements are set by the state and include being a US citizen, at least 18 years old, a resident of Kansas, and meeting set criteria if you have a felony conviction.
The state already has an option for those who are eligible to vote if they do not have a photo ID and cannot get their birth certificate. It’s called a state voter identification document and has fewer requirements regarding supporting documentation than the Community ID does. Again, it would require one to be eligible to vote in the first place.
Please check this list from the Elections Office on accepted forms of identification for Kansas elections.
Photo ID — WycoVotes