From 90.1 FM KKFI
On Wednesday about 50 people from a number of local organizations led by the Kansas ACLU gathered at El Centro in Kansas City Kansas to kick off a campaign for a Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte County and the issuance of municipal identification cards.
Wyandotte County has a rich immigrant history and is the most diverse community in the area. It has the highest share of immigrants in the area, and about one in five residents or about 11,000 people are undocumented and lack any form of government-issued identification.
Reverend Rick Behrens of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church told the group: “But immigrants are not the only people who will benefit from this ordinance. The municipal ID will serve the elderly, juvenile citizens, the homeless, reentering citizens by offering access to many of the basic functions that we all access everyday because we have ID. And 25% of all African American adults in the United States have no government-issued ID. Identification is a key part to ensuring the dignity and well-being of our residents in Wyandotte County. Proof of identity can be a doorway, a doorway to many needs including healthcare, the library, the ability to participate in the economy. You really can’t get credit cards or debit cards without some proof of identity. We all have names. We can’t build a relationship if we don’t know one another’s names. Communities are built on relationships. So at the very foundation of who we are as a community we have a break in what we need to be a community. We have to know each others’ names. Relationships are built on identities and that is the basis of our community. So let’s do this. Because it’s the right thing to do; it’s the moral thing to do’ it’s the spiritual thing to do for all of God’s children and it’s a true step for Wyandotte County getting closer to that beloved community that Dr. King talked about many years ago.”
Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the Kansas ACLU, and others talked about the climate of fear in the country with a president and a candidate for Governor of Kansas who want to criminalize refugees and asylees and send their agents into our communities. Kubic explained that the proposed Safe and Welcoming ordinance is one way the people who make up Wyandotte County can make our community a place where people feel safe, can grow roots, where they feel welcome, where they belong. Besides offering a municipal ID, Kubic said, “It does something else, too. It says that we are going to make this community safe and welcoming to everyone. And that means in a time of scarce resources we are not going to ask our local law enforcement to do ICE’s job for it [applause]. We’re not going to ask local law enforcement to do the job of immigration enforcement. Because that’s not their job. There’s someone else to do that. And moreover when there is an environment of fear and repression spreading throughout the state, spreading throughout the country, we are not going to be parties to that.”
So far 20 organizations have endorsed the ordinance. They are looking for more, continuing canvasing of neighborhoods, and speaking with commissioners and the Mayor of the Unified Government.