Roeland Park mayor hesitates on adding name to immigration letter

Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt is taking some time to consider whether to add his name to a letter about immigration policy from Kansas mayors addressed to the Kansas congressional delegation.

New Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt
Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt

“I am going to think about it a little longer, though it may be valid,” Marquardt said. His hesitation followed an exchange among council members that revealed support for signing the letter was not unanimous. Councilor Robert Meyers expressed the most concerns about the letter, saying he thought it had a “political side.”

The letter emerged this summer under the sponsorship of Mayor Carl Brewer of Wichita and Mayor Mike Boehm of Lenexa. The letter cautions the delegation to guard against any adverse impact on local governments by immigration reform, although it supports a federal solution.

The letter reads in part:
“The immigrant population of Kansas includes valued members of our community. We are supportive of a solution that allows reasonable access to citizenship while assuring adequate border security.
We also urge Congress to pay close attention to the impact of any immigration reform on local
governments. The risk of unintended consequences is always present in any major national
initiative. Any immigration legislation generated by Congress, cannot burden local governments
with extra law enforcement or administrative burdens. This federal problem needs a federal
solution paid for with federal resources.”

Meyers said the city should not be profiling, but he also didn’t “think we should say we are not going to be part of the solution.” He questioned signing on behalf of the city, rather than as an individual.

Councilor Becky Fast was one who supported the letter. “Right now municipal governments are spending money on immigration,” she said, because there has been no immigration reform.

Mayors in Fairway, Mission Hills and Westwood Hills are among the more than 30 Kansas mayor who have signed to date.