UG Alvey mayor blocks needed municipal IDs and immigration reform
Wyandotte County residents who support an inclusive and vibrant community must push for an immediate vote on a new municipal identification program.
This means a unified government vote on the “Safe and Welcoming” ordinance ahead of the November elections. And that means dismissing candidates who oppose it, including Mayor David Alvey, who has refused to allow open debate on the plan.
“We are determined to push him through this electoral cycle,” said the Reverend. Rick behrens, member of the broad coalition supporting the measure.
The order would create municipal ID for the 30,000 residents of Wyandotte County who now have no photo ID. It would help the elderly, the homeless, foster children, victims of domestic violence – and 15,000 to 18,000 undocumented migrants, who often struggle to open bank accounts, register children for school, buy medicine or rent a house.
A municipal identification program is operational in dozens of communities, including Detroit, Little Rock and Philadelphia. “The card helps create a more welcoming Philadelphia that embraces all who live here,” the city says.
KCK must share that goal, but Alvey bottled the plan for months. It continues to deny the community a vote on this important measure because it contains a second provision prohibiting local authorities from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
“The KCKPD will use its resources and authority to protect the public in Kansas City, Kansas, including residents without legal status,” says a proposed executive order. “It is not the mission of the KCKPD to enforce federal immigration law.”
This part of the prescription is critical to the success of the identification program. Without the assurance that their information will not be passed on to federal authorities, undocumented migrants will not register, which defeats the purpose of the municipal identity card.
“Passing the Safe & Welcoming Order imposing ICE non-compliance and recognizing a community identifier will help break the dark cloud of fear that hangs over so many of our fellow Kansans,” said the Safe and Welcoming Coalition in a press release.
Alvey rejected this argument. He says grant deals with Washington preclude any ban on local-federal cooperation on immigration.
It is not clear that this is the case. The unified government could easily ask for waivers of any grant contracts requiring cooperation between law enforcement agencies, waivers that the Biden administration seems likely to support.
Alvey also says banning cooperation is unnecessary because the police and the federal government aren’t working together now. “We are not working with ICE to support their policies,” he told KCUR. “We do not enforce immigration law. “
Behrens says there is anecdotal evidence that the agencies are working together. But Alvey’s argument fails even on a matter of logic: if existing grants require local and federal cooperation, how can the KCKPD “not work” with the ICE? It does not mean anything.
Tyrone Garner, who is the mayor of Alvey’s opponent in November, has approved a vote on the Safe and Welcoming ordinance and is supporting it. It’s the right thing to do and a key decision point for Wyandotte County voters.