Posted: February 6, 2013 - 4:33pm

By Tim Carpenter

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach delivered a primer on reform options targeting illegal immigrants Wednesday by urging the Republican-led Legislature to adopt statutes denying public services to aliens and repealing the policy of charging in-state tuition rates to children brought to Kansas in violation of federal law.

Kobach, who built a legal, academic and political career around the controversial subject of immigration, said the four neighboring states have been more active than Kansas in making it difficult for undocumented immigrants to work and live in the United States.

“Kansas is the only state in the five-state area that does nothing to discourage illegal immigration,” he said. “In fact, we reward illegal immigration. Your actions have consequences. We give incentives. We give no disincentives.”

He told members of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee that Kansas should follow the path of Colorado and Nebraska by placing in state law a ban on government services — beyond those mandated by Congress, such as emergency medical care and a K-12 education — to illegal immigrants.

Kansas has violated, since 2004, a federal law prohibiting colleges and universities from charging in-state tuition to children of undocumented students if the same benefit wasn’t extended to all U.S. citizens, Kobach said.

A bill to repeal the tuition law was passed by the House in 2011, but stalled in the Senate.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” Kobach said. “I think Kansas would be well-advised to come into compliance with federal law.”

During Kobach’s presentation to the committee, Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza, asked whether the state could recover the cost of educating illegal immigrants by attaching special fees to out-of-classroom activities.

“Would it violate federal law if we just required the student or the family to pay the cost of the diploma or the cost of transcripts? In other words, they can go to school but they will not get the diplomas or transcripts until X number of dollars can be paid to the state,” he said.

“There is no definitive answer, at least from the Supreme Court,” said Kobach, who said the free public education mandate was firmly established, “but the court didn’t go into all the other free stuff, for lack of a better term, that schools provide, like free lunches, free participation in intramurals that some schools still offer or free transcript and recordkeeping services.”

Kobach recommended the 2013 Legislature require all public and private employers in the state to make use of the E-Verify system operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when hiring workers. At minimum, he said, securing confirmation of eligibility for each applicant should be added to state government contracts.

Kansas could require state and local police to refer suspected illegal aliens to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Kobach said. The state should consider a law allowing state and local police to be deputized to exercise ICE authority in Kansas, he said.

He cautioned the Legislature against creation of a state program authorizing undocumented immigrants to work in Kansas or imposing criminal penalties on aliens who unlawfully seek jobs in the state.

Kobach lobbies House to stand against illegal immigrants |