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Kansas governor signs bill to ban local 'sanctuaries' for immigrants

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Gov. Laura Kelly says immigration is a federal responsibility and Congress should provide a national solution for a broken immigration system.

TOPEKA— Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday signed a bill pushed by state Republicans to overturn three communities’ policies that could help immigrants stay in the state illegally.

The bill was filed after Wyandotte County passed a “sanctuary” ordinance in February that would provide local identification cards for immigrants and other residents and would prevent local law enforcement from helping the federal government enforce immigration laws unless public safety is threatened. Lawrence and Roeland Park have similar ordinances.

Kelly said in a statement that she would sign the bill because immigration policy is a federal responsibility, which can't be resolved at the local level.

“Both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have failed to address immigration issues for decades,” Kelly said. “We need a national solution and we need it now.”

The Kansas House and Senate passed the bill in recent weeks and supporters had the two-thirds majorities necessary in both chambers to override a Kelly veto.

The bill nullifies the three existing ordinances and bans future ones that restrict cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. The bill also says a local ID isn’t valid for voting.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had urged lawmakers to intervene after Wyandotte County passed its ordinance last month.

Schmidt, who is the presumed Republican nominee for governor, said in a statement Monday the Biden administration's failure to secure the U.S. southern border jeopardizes public safety in Kansas.

"Under this new law, Kansas law enforcement will be able to resume working professionally with federal immigration authorities as the needs of public safety require and not be silenced by a patchwork of local ‘sanctuary city’ gag orders,” he said.

Kelly said the law could prevent people who rely on local IDs from voting, and she urged the Legislature to send her another bill that ensures those people, such as the elderly and those with disabilities, can continue to vote.