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    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    KS human smuggling law takes effect in July. What will it mean for undocumented immig

    KS human smuggling law takes effect in July. What will it mean for undocumented immigrants?

    Natalie Wallington
    Thu, June 8, 2023 at 10:49 AM EDT

    After overriding a veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly last month, the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature created new criminal penalties for human smuggling in what proponents say is an effort to curb the exploitation of undocumented workers.

    Under the new law, which goes into effect on July 1, anyone who intentionally moves, hides or shelters someone who is in the country illegally can be charged with a felony in Kansas if they receive any form of payment for doing so and are aware that the person will be financially exploited.

    This broad definition has caused concern among immigration advocates, who worry that in order to enforce this new law, the state might involve federal immigration authorities. Critics worry enforcement could subject undocumented Kansans to legal scrutiny and the risk of deportation.

    Others fear that the broadly-defined new crime could implicate a wide swath of people who house or transport undocumented Kansans, including their friends and family members. Some also worry that it could discourage people from reporting workplace abuse or exploitation.

    “It’s so open to interpretation that we do not know how it’s going to be enforced,” said said Karla Juarez, the executive director of Advocates for Immigration Rights and Reconciliation (AIRR), a nonprofit organization based in Kansas City, Kansas.

    But proponents of the bill, including state Rep. Eric L. Smith, a Burlington Republican, argued that the law is part of a larger effort to target human traffickers — not put their victims at risk.

    “We are finding any way that we can to identify those who are being trafficked. This is just one more tool,” Smith told The Star. “This law was created to protect folks, not open the door for further exploitation by government agents.”
    Here’s what else we know about this new crime in Kansas.

    How does Kansas define human smuggling under the new law?

    Kansas’ new law defines human smuggling as “intentionally transporting, harboring or concealing an individual into or within Kansas” when all three of the following conditions are met:

    • The smuggler knows or “should have known” that the person they are smuggling is in the country illegally
    • The smuggler is receiving some sort of benefit, financial or otherwise, for smuggling the person
    • The smuggler knows or “should have known” that the person they are smuggling “is likely to be exploited for the financial gain of another.”

    The law makes human smuggling a level 5 person felony, which in Kansas carries a sentence of around four years and four months in prison.

    This crime is slightly different from human trafficking, which happens against the victim’s will. Human smuggling, on the other hand, can happen with the consent of the person being “smuggled” — but can still involve poor living or working conditions.

    “Oftentimes, with human smuggling, it’s the same kind of thing and often goes hand in hand with human trafficking,” Smith said. “The human smuggling (law) was directed toward those individuals who are part of that business of moving those folks.”

    The law also defines “aggravated human smuggling” as happening when the person being smuggled is harmed, threatened with a weapon or compelled into sex work by the smuggler. This crime is a level 3 person felony, which carries a sentence of around 7 years and ten months in prison.

    What could the new law mean for smuggling victims?

    While the new law doesn’t directly criminalize the person being “smuggled,” critics worry that state prosecution of the crime could encourage federal immigration authorities to investigate the legal status of those involved.

    Immigration investigations fall to the federal government, not to the states. But this law creates a state crime that is dependent on a person’s immigration status, which is a federal matter.

    Leavenworth District Attorney Todd Thompson told The Star that this overlap of state and federal jurisdictions is pretty common — prosecutors would simply have a federal agent testify to the immigration status of one or more undocumented smuggling victims.

    “Federal agents testify about state cases all the time,” he said. “(Smuggling victims’) status is an element of that crime, so that would need to be brought into evidence.”

    Critics of the new law worry that such investigations could put smuggling victims at risk of deportation, and could lead to law enforcement targeting Hispanic and Latino Kansans.

    “Our goal is to make sure that people know their rights and are alert to what any sort of racial profiling or discrimination could look like,” Juarez said.

    She added that her group supports the state’s efforts to curb the exploitation of immigrant workers, but is specifically opposed to the first section of the law, which she said defines the “human smuggling” crime in an overly broad way.

    Advocates for Immigration Rights and Reconciliation members are seen at a 2019 press conference in support of Florencio Millan, 32, who was forcibly detained by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

    What rights do undocumented Kansans have?

    Juarez’ organization is publicizing its Know Your Rights material ahead of the bill’s implementation later this summer.

    Among some basic constitutional rights of everyone on U.S. soil are the right to remain silent and the right to refuse unlawful searches of your vehicle, home or person. Kansans also have the right to record their interactions with law enforcement.

    Juarez encourages those interested in helping undocumented Kansans to spread this information widely and keep an eye out for instances of racial profiling.

    “Undocumented people hold the same constitutional rights as American citizens do because they live on U.S. soil,” she said. “Those of us who are U.S. citizens are in a position of privilege whenever we get pulled over… We feel a lot more comfortable asking the question of why I was pulled over, and being alert of questioning whether or not certain things are discriminatory.”

    To share information about the new law, the Kansas Hispanic and Latino Affairs Commission is holding several workshops around the state throughout June. Here are a few upcoming events:

    Other resources for Kansans who may have experienced discrimination include the ACLU of Kansas and Kansas Legal Services.

    How can someone get charged with human smuggling?

    Like with other crimes, police and prosecutors can decide how they will go after those they believe are committing human smuggling. We don’t know exactly how this enforcement will play out yet, and it may vary based on individual interpretations of the law.

    “The critical part of this bill is that it doesn’t just affect undocumented people. It affects DACA recipients, legal permanent residents, even U.S. citizens, because it makes it a felony for anyone to do the things that the bill says,” Juarez told The Star.

    That’s a point of concern for some of AIRR’s clients, who worry that speaking up about exploitative conditions their undocumented friends and family members face could be considered admitting to a felony.

    Thousands of Kansans live in “mixed status” households that contain some undocumented people as well as those in the country legally.

    According to the American Immigration Council, over 100,000 Kansans — around half of whom are U.S. citizens — lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014. Undocumented immigrants also comprised around 3% of the state’s total population in 2016.

    “If someone’s already living with me, (and) I’m benefiting financially because they’re paying rent, what if they come into work and they’re being exploited, and I report it?” Juarez said, echoing a concern she said she had heard repeatedly from AIRR’s clients. “I’m trying to help them, but am I going to be a felon under this law?”

    Others, including Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, have also expressed concerns that rideshare drivers and paramedics in ambulances could be prosecuted under the broad definition of this crime. A loose interpretation of “harboring” someone could put hotels and shelters at risk, too.

    Thompson told The Star that while he understands these concerns, such a prosecution would be unlikely.

    “I don’t think law enforcement even has the time, and the want, to start going after those situations as opposed to actually using the law as I think it was interpreted and hoped,” he said.

    He added that not only would police need extensive information in order to make an arrest, but a prosecutor would have to choose to press charges against a family member or friend accused of “smuggling” their loved one. A jury would also have to choose to convict the alleged smuggler.

    “If you have… let’s say two people getting taken to work, is that human smuggling? I think you’re gonna have a real, real hard time trying to determine how you got to probable cause for that being human smuggling,” Smith added.

    But the law’s critics remain concerned about the freedom it gives police and prosecutors to decide when to target potential smugglers.

    “Legislators themselves told us that they are putting their trust in the sheriff’s department or the police department to interpret this law,” Juarez said. “And that’s concerning.”

    Do you have more questions about immigration in Kansas or Missouri? Ask the Service Journalism team at

    Last edited by Beezer; 06-08-2023 at 11:17 AM.


  2. #2
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    They are not our citizens; they have no rights here. Their rights are right back home where they belong in their countries.

    No jobs, housing, no school, no healthcare, no bank accounts, no anchor baby. Their offspring are not legal U.S. citizens. That is harboring aiding and abetting by allowing them ANY of our taxpayer funded benefits or to attend or schools.

    I do not care if they are "mixed" families, that is NO excuse to break our laws. Take your family, sell out, pack up, and get out.

    We are sick of you lawbreakers.

    Our families are "broken up" all across America. We have to move for jobs, relocation, health reasons, it does not matter. So quit with the whining BS about their sob stories. We have had it.


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