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Immigration issue isn’t going away, legislators say
By Carl Manning - Associated Press, May 10, 2008

Topeka — Legislators failed to pass any immigration bill this year, but it’s an issue that’s not going away anytime soon.

The House and Senate each passed a bill viewed as a weakened version of what was introduced in each chamber. Negotiators reached agreement on a compromise but couldn’t sell it to the House, and the Legislature adjourned Wednesday night with no bill.

But the top two legislative leaders said Thursday it’s an issue that will keep coming back until Congress passes immigration reform.

The Legislature has a history of taking several years to deal with controversial and complex issues such as abortion, gambling, health care and school finance.
Speaker sees immigration as perennial issue
The Hays Daily News, May 8, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- House Speaker Melvin Neufeld expects immigration to become an issue that legislators debate each year.

Many Republicans saw cracking down on illegal immigration as one of this year's top issues.

Conservatives drafted a package to require businesses to verify employees' immigration status, punish businesses that hire illegal immigrants and deny state benefits to those immigrants.

But as lawmakers debated the issue, the package got watered down, mainly because of concerns from business groups.

Democrats also pushed for a proposal to punish businesses that misclassify workers as independent contractors, whether those workers are immigrants or not.

Nothing passed. But Neufeld says immigration will be a long-term issue.
Immigration measure close to dying in Kansas Legislature
By JEANNINE KORANDA for the Kansas City Star, May 5, 2008

TOPEKA | Legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration lingers near death at the state Capitol, and no one has issued a resuscitation order.

Last week the House blocked a full debate on compromise legislation to crack down on illegal immigrants and the employers who hire them.

The chamber’s chief negotiator, Republican Rep. Arlen Siegfreid of Olathe, said then that he would “be the most shocked person in Kansas” if his Senate counterpart called the committee back to renegotiate the bill.

The legislation failed 55-67 on a House vote on whether to begin debate on the bill lacking the signature of one negotiator, Rep. Judith Loganbill, a Wichita Democrat.

Loganbill had criticized the measure as not being tough enough on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

The vote sent the measure back to the negotiating committee so it could be revived, but many lawmakers weren’t hopeful. And now lawmakers are tied up on other issues as they try to adjourn this week.
Immigration bill appears dead in House
AP, May 2, 2008

TOPEKA - For the second time, the House has blocked advancement of a compromise immigration bill, and it appears that no further action will be taken on the issue this year.

A 55-67 vote this evening on a procedural move to allow the bill to go forward stopped any progress on the bill.

The House's chief negotiator, Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, said the failed effort essentially ends any efforts to get the legislation passed this year.

Last month, a compromise bill stalled in the House because it didn't include criminal penalties for businesses that illegally treat any workers as independent contractors instead of employees.
Scaled-back immigration bill faltering
BY JEANNINE KORANDA for the Wichita Eagle, April 27, 2008

TOPEKA - Legislators declared illegal-immigration reform one of their top priorities at the beginning of the session. But as they head back for a final few days this week, a compromise bill is foundering.

The measure, significantly scaled back from earlier proposals, rankles lawmakers from both parties. Some Republicans say it doesn't do enough to go after illegal immigrants. Some Democrats say it doesn't punish the employers who hire them.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said it would be "very unfortunate" if the Legislature ended its work without a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

But he cautioned that the bill isn't likely to please people on either side of the contentious issue.
Popular immigration topic missing in Kansas bill
By CARL MANNING for the AP, April 25, 2008

Topeka — Like the majority of other states considering immigration legislation this year, Kansas started out with local law enforcement playing a big role.

But talk of adding sheriffs and police to immigration enforcement faded as the legislation was altered. It’s mostly because lawmakers long have been loath to intrude into what is seen as the province of city and county governments.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld said Thursday that the issue of local control more than anything else cut into efforts to enlarge law enforcement’s role in dealing with the rising tide of illegal immigrants.

“One of the reasons why in Kansas you’d presume that there’s not an effort to make the local sheriff, to force the local sheriff, to do that — although a lot them are voluntarily doing that — is the fierce propensity we have for local control,” said the Ingalls Republican.

When legislators began their spring break April 4, they left up in the air an immigration bill worked out by House and Senate negotiators. The House wouldn’t agree to a routine move allowing the compromise to move toward a vote, but it could take another run at it when legislators return Wednesday to wrap up the session.
Immigration debate could end without passage of bill
By CARL MANNING for the AP, April 13, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A strong push to deal with illegal immigration has been blunted, diverted and slowed so much that it could end in little more than a muddled mess.

Sensing that their constituents were angry about illegal immigrants and facing an election year, legislators began their session with many of them demanding change.

But talking, of course, is easier than doing.
Compromise bill on illegal immigration stalls in House
AP, April 4, 2008

The House stalled progress of a compromise version of illegal immigration legislation that lacks some of the original get-tough policies toward employers.

The chamber voted Friday 59-57 against a procedural vote that kept legislators from acting on the bill.

The lead House negotiator, Republican Arlen Siegfreid, said the vote was "bad timing" and said there may be a move to reconsider that vote. If the vote then prevails, it would put the chamber in position to vote on the bill.

Dealing with illegal immigration has been high on the agenda this year of many legislators, who say they are responding to constituents' concerns about the increased number of illegal immigrants in Kansas.
'Sanctuary city' law proposal finds no safe passage
By CHRIS GREEN and SARAH KESSINGER for the Harris News Service, March 29, 2008

Some senators expressed concern Wednesday evening that a proposal aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants might lead to racial profiling.

During the chamber's nearly seven-hour debate over an immigration bill, Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, proposed a restriction aimed at so-called "sanctuary cities."

Under Journey's amendment, police officers couldn't be barred from asking someone about their immigration status or citizenship by local governments.
Immigration Bill Passes House - House Passes Its Version of Illegal Immigration Legislation
By Carl Manning for the AP, March 28, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The House on Friday passed an illegal immigration measure, but only after lawmakers rewrote it to the point where its chief sponsor disowned it.

Among other things, the measure increases penalties for using false documents to gain illegal employment and creates the crime of helping an illegal immigrant to vote. It also creates criminal penalties for businesses that illegally treat workers as independent subcontractors.
Senate passes immigration reform bill
BY JEANNINE KORANDA for the Wichita Eagle, March 27, 2008

TOPEKA - The Senate gave unanimous final approval to an illegal immigration reform bill today, although some said it didn't go far enough.

"The bill does very little, but that is better than nothing," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler.

He and others had tried unsuccessfully to add provisions that would have required businesses to use the federal e-Verify system to check employee eligibility, levied increased penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and blocked illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition at state universities.

"If we do not respect and obey our laws and rules, we cannot expect illegal immigrants or any criminals to respect or obey our laws either," said Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia.
KLA: Floor Action Begins Today On Immigration
Cattle Network, March 24, 2008

Much of the focus at the state Capitol from now until the April 5 first adjournment will be on floor action in the House and Senate. One of the issues KLA is following, state immigration laws, will be among the first worked.

The House and Senate are expected to debate legislation today that would create new state laws regarding illegal immigration in Kansas . KLA and 36 other business groups are supporting a bill under consideration by the Senate (SB 458) that would: a) penalize employers who engage in a pattern and practice of hiring or recruiting undocumented workers; b) give the state attorney general authority to bring civil suits for illegal actions; c) impose a new crime for trafficking illegal immigrants; and d) allow state officials to seize property if an illegal immigrant in Kansas commits any felony. The business coalition, including KLA, is opposed to the House plan (SB 329), which would penalize employers through the suspension or revocation of business licenses. It also would require employers, starting in 2010, to participate in a federal employment verification (e-Verify) program designed to be voluntary.
Immigration a quagmire for Kansas, Missouri
BY DAVID KLEPPER and JASON NOBLE, The Wichita Eagle, March 17, 2008

To Dick Fatherley, immigration reform is, if not easy, at least logical.

Immigrants break the law if they are here illegally. Businesses that exploit their cheap labor break the law. The law should be enforced.

"An invasion is an invasion," said the Wyandotte County man.

Not to Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan. If illegal immigration is an invasion, he recently told lawmakers, it is "the strangest invasion in history, where the invaders clean our houses and harvest our crops."

In Missouri and Kansas, legislators started the year by proposing aggressive reforms to satisfy people such as Fatherley. Many lawmakers say the states have no choice but to address illegal immigration because Congress has not acted.
Is illegal immigration a cause of crowding?
BY SUZANNE PEREZ TOBIAS, The Wichita Eagle, March 16, 2008

Wichita school district residents will vote May 6 on a $350 million bond issue to build new schools, renovate existing schools and upgrade athletic and fine-arts facilities.

Here is a question readers have asked about the bond issue. Keep them coming; we'll print answers to your questions on Sundays.

How much of the district's overcrowding problem is the result of illegal immigration? What percentage of Wichita students are the children of undocumented residents?

District officials don't know how many students may be in the United States illegally, said Dalia Hale, Wichita's director of multilingual education services.
Kan. Senate Committee Rewrites Immigration Bill, Upsets Sponsors
By Carl Manning, Associated Press, March 13, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Senate committee rewrote immigration legislation Wednesday so that it met the approval of the business community but upset backers of the original, tougher proposal.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee sent the proposal to the Senate after removing requirements that employers participate in E-Verify, a federal government database to check on the legal status of potential workers. Instead, businesses that voluntarily use E-Verify would be able to use that as a defense in a lawsuit.

The committee also removed penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, instead making that a civil offense.

Meanwhile, after five hours of debate, the House Federal and State Affairs Committee agreed on a version that kept many of the key elements that the Senate committee had removed. The final version will be worked out by House and Senate negotiators if each chamber passes its version.
Senate, House panels pass reworked immigration bills
BY JEANNINE KORANDA, Associated Press, March 12, 2008

TOPEKA - A Senate committee rewrote immigration legislation Wednesday so that it met the approval of the business community but upset backers of the original, tougher proposal.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee sent the proposal to the Senate after removing requirements that employers participate in E-Verify, a federal government database to check on the legal status of potential workers. Instead, businesses that voluntarily use E-Verify would be able to use that as a defense in a lawsuit.

The committee also removed penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, instead making that a civil offense.

Meanwhile, after five hours of debate, the House Federal and State Affairs Committee agreed on a version that kept many of the key elements that the Senate committee had removed. The final version will be worked out by House and Senate negotiators if each chamber passes its version.
House committee begin reworking immigration bill
By Carl Manning, Associated Press, March 11, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Monday began trying to water down immigration legislation that would require employers use a federal database to verify whether they are hiring legal residents.

The committee took no action, but Chairman Arlen Siegfreid said he wants to be able to vote Wednesday on whether to send the measure to the House for debate.

''I don't want this to lay here until next week,'' said Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican.

As introduced, the bill requires employers to start using the E-Verify system and imposes penalties for those who hire illegal immigrants. The committee talked about pushing back the mandatory requirement until July 2010 and have the Kansas Department of Labor make the actual checks for employers enrolled in the program.

It still would require all government agencies and employers convicted of hiring illegal immigrants to start using E-Verify this year, and next year requires employers seeking state contracts to use the system.
Immigration reform has mixed families unsettled
By Carl Manning, Associated Press, March 7, 2008

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — When Kecia Sales and Juan Marquez were married, they were like scores of other couples: very much in love with plans to live together for the rest of their lives.

But it wasn't to be.

After their December 2004 marriage, he told her he had been living illegally in the U.S. since 1999. After leaving Mexico, Marquez made his way to her hometown of Kansas City, Kan., where they met and married, and she took his name.

They became one of an estimated 2 million mixed families, where at least one member is a citizen or lawfully living in the country and at least one member isn't. The vast majority of those families, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, involve an illegal parent and legal children — yet another shade of this country's ongoing immigration conundrum.

That he's among some 12 million illegal immigrants didn't change Sales' love for Marquez. They lived in her hometown with a couple of dogs and both worked to make ends meet.
Chamber pushes alternative immigration bill
by Chris Moon for the Wichita Business Journal, March 6, 2008

The Kansas Chamber is urging state lawmakers to reject several bills that would penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants, saying those measures don't take into account difficulties in verifying an employee's immigration status.

Amy Blankenbiller, the chamber's president and CEO, held a series of interviews with reporters Thursday to push the organization's alternative bill, which would create new state laws against identity fraud.

The bill wouldn't penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants. But Blankenbiller says such punishments could fall against even the most vigilant of business owners -- those who try to verify the status of their employees but can't obtain reliable results through the federal government's Internet database.

Some bills in the Kansas Legislature would strip business licenses for companies on their first offense.
Does Kansas Need Immigration Reform?
By Beth Vaughn for KSNT TV, March 4, 2008

Opponents say the U.S. government isn't enforcing federal immigration laws, so the bill would only make an already bad situation, worse for Kansas.

Senate Bill 458 requires law enforcement officers to check a person's legal status. Legal Counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities, Sandy Jacquot, says, “We're probably going to be detaining people we probably ought not to detain, we're going to start racially profiling those individuals, those are all the natural consequences of trying to enforce those laws.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Kansas Catholic Conference says, “If the we diminish the ability of Homeland Security and local law enforcement from protecting us from real dangers if we force them to hunt down those who come to our country to pursue the American dream.”

The bill could take away public benefits and punish employers for hiring illegal immigrants by way of license suspension.
Bishops seek thoughtful immigration debate
By Tim Carpenter for The Capital-Journal, February 18, 2008

Three bishops serving Kansas congregations today issued a joint letter urging government officials to reform immigration policy in a manner that avoids demagoguery designed to spread fear.