This Johnson County city could be impacted by new Kansas immigration law

Roeland Park entrance sign

Roeland Park passed a "safe and welcoming" ordinance in 2020. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

Roeland Park’s “safe and welcoming” ordinance, which has been on the books for more than a year, could be impacted by a new state law recently signed by Gov. Laura Kelly.

What is the law: HB 2717, among other provisions, prohibits municipalities from “preventing the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

Under the law, local law enforcement agencies are now required to notify officers of their “duty to cooperate with state and federal agencies in the enforcement of immigration laws.”

The law also bars the use of municipal IDs for any state purpose, such as voting.

Alternative, city-issued IDs have been intended for use by some populations, including immigrants who are in U.S. without documentation, who can’t obtain state-issued IDs.

Roeland Park’s ordinance: The city adopted a “safe and welcoming” ordinance in December 2020.

It states Roeland Park officers are not to provide support or assistance to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities unless there is a threat to public safety.

If ICE or other federal immigration officers are or plan to operate in the city, the police department is required to alert the public.

The ordinance allows city employees to accept any valid photo identification with a person’s name on it.

Individuals charged with a crime are also not supposed to be asked about their immigration status unless required by law, under the ordinance.

Unclear impact: Roeland Park City Administrator Keith Moody told the Post via email last week after Kelly signed the bill into law that the city attorney is still assessing the implications of HB 2717.

In a written statement, Safe and Welcoming Roeland Park, a resident-led group that advocated for the city’s “safe and welcoming” ordinance, said, according to the city attorney, the “ordinance is now largely unenforceable due to this law.”

Moody did not confirm that, and only reiterated that implications of the new law are still being researched.

Across the county line, HB 2717 directly nullified Wyandotte County’s new safe and welcoming ordinance, The Kansas City Star reports.

The Roeland Park and Wyandotte County ordinances are similar, and discussions in Roeland Park began in September 2019 with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, which has also worked with Wyandotte County on its ordinance.

Community concern: Safe and Welcoming Roeland Park, which worked with the city to develop the ordinance currently on the books, expressed disappointment in Kelly’s signing of HB 2717.

The group says it’s “concerned about the risk of harm that the law creates for community members.”

Key quote: “We hope that our civic leaders will continue to support immigrants, but this new law strips elected officials of the power to provide any legal assurances,” the statement reads. “Despite this, we remain hopeful that the Roeland Park community will continue to affirm and support those of us most at risk of harm.”

The group’s full statement can be found below.

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