Kansas official suggests steps to reduce illegal immigration

Originally published May 13, 2011
By Pam Rigaux
News-Post Staff

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, far left, addresses attendees at a town hall meeting about illegal immigration Thursday at the FSK American Legion Post 11 in Frederick. Contributing to the discussion were, from left, Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, County Commissioner Billy Shreve and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.

Kris Kobach, Kansas' secretary of state, praised Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and other Frederick County officials for their approach to illegal immigration at a town hall meeting Thursday night.

Kobach and Jenkins took center stage at the meeting, and Kobach said nowhere has he seen conservative leadership so surrounded by a "sea of liberal, open-borders nonsense."

He urged Jenkins and others to stay on track and suggested several steps to take. One was to deny county benefits to illegal immigrants. A second was to require employers in the county to verify their employees have legitimate Social Security numbers.

A third suggestion was to take away business licenses from companies that hire illegal immigrants. Landlords who intentionally harbor them should also be penalized, he said.

During a public question-and-answer session, Kobach was asked how an agriculturally intensive county such as Frederick could find workers if illegal immigrants were removed. Kobach said statistics don't support employers claims that they can't find skilled workers to do agricultural jobs.

He also said banning illegal immigrants from working could prompt a company to raise wages and hire legal immigrants who had been priced out of a job.

Both Kobach and Jenkins said part of the solution is to change attitudes. As parents, Jenkins said, "We need to tell our children it's OK to be a laborer."

In his presentation, Jenkins said criminal acts, violent crime and drugs are spilling into our country from the border.

"We're told borders are secure when they're not," Jenkins said during the meeting at the American Legion on Taney Avenue.

The solution is to strengthen security at the local level. Jenkins sees a federal program called 287(g), which identifies if someone arrested is an illegal immigrant, as one way of achieving better security.

The 287(g) program was established in Frederick County under his direction. It is now seen as a model program nationally, he said.

"I'm going tomorrow to discuss the program with the assistant secretary of homeland security," Jenkins said.

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