Four dozen Shawnee Mission area elected officials sign letter asking Yoder to intervene in separation of children from parents at border

Rep. Kevin Yoder conducted a two-day fact finding tour of the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month. Photo credit office of Rep. Kevin Yoder.

Update 11:04 a.m.: The group of organizers who collected the signatures of the initial 58 area elected officials say they’ve received a wave of feedback from others who did not get a chance to sign the letter. They’re planning to release an addendum with more signatories in the coming days.

A bipartisan group including four dozen elected officials from the Shawnee Mission area — from state representatives, to school board members to city council men and women — has signed a letter asking Rep. Kevin Yoder to use his authority as Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Committee to “demand the U.S. Department of Homeland Security abandon the practice of forced separation” of children from parents at the border.

State Reps. Linda Gallagher, a Republican, and Jarrod Ousley, a Democrat, plan to deliver the request letter to Yoder’s office in downtown Overland Park today at 2 p.m. A total of 58 officials from the Kansas 3rd Congressional District area signed the letter.

“The separation of children from their parents to deter asylum seekers will have significant long lasting consequences for the safety, health, development and well-being of children, and violates well established international law protecting asylum seekers, and the constitutional right to due process,” reads the letter. “Family unity is a foundational principle of child welfare law, and a parent’s rights to the care and custody of their child is afforded strong protection under the U.S. Constitution, viewed as a fundamental liberty interest.”

Yoder was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations in May. Earlier this month, he conducted a two-day fact finding mission on the U.S.-Mexico border. In an interview with KMBZ after returning from that trip, he expressed sympathy for the separated families, but noted that “Not all of these cases are what you would think; these minors are being trafficked and being used.”

Those comments drew a rebuke from some of his political opponents. Tom Niermann, a history teacher seeking the Democratic nomination in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District race, said the practice of separating children from parents is “not the United Stated I teach my students about — a beacon of democracy and human rights.”

Signatories to the letter included the following Shawnee Mission area officials:

State Senators

  • Barbara Bollier
  • Pat Pettey
  • Dinah Sykes

State Representatives

  • Stephanie Clayton
  • Cindy Holscher
  • Nancy Lusk
  • Cindy Neighbor
  • Brett Parker
  • Melissa Rooker
  • Jerry Stogsdill

County Commissioners

  • Ed Eilert
  • Jason Osterhaus

JCCC Trustees

  • Lee Cross
  • Angeliina Lawson

Shawnee Mission Board of Education members

  • Heather Ousley
  • Mary Sinclair
  • Laura Guy

Prairie Village governing body members

  • Mayor Laura Wassmer
  • Terrance Gallagher
  • Chad Herring
  • Sheila Myers
  • Jori Nelson
  • Ron Nelson
  • Tucker Poling
  • Dan Runion

Mission governing body members

  • Ken Davis
  • Sollie Flora
  • Arcie Rothrock
  • Hillary Parker Thomas

Merriam governing body members

  • Al Frisby
  • David Neal

Overland Park governing body members

  • Logan Heley

Roeland Park governing body members

  • Mayor Mike Kelly
  • Becky Fast
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Michael Poppa

Shawnee governing body members

  • Mayor Michelle Distler
  • Justin Adrian
  • Lindsey Constance
  • Jim Neighbor
  • Michael Sandifer
  • Matt Zimmerman

Westwood governing body members

  • Jason Hannaman
  • Jeff Harris
  • David Waters

WaterOne Board

  • Kay Heley

The letter in its entirety is embedded below:

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