State asked to do the math of immigration
BY ANNIE CALOVICH
The Wichita Eagle
January 20, 2008
The advocacy group Sunflower Community Action on Saturday called on the state to determine the amount of money illegal immigrants contribute in taxes vs. the amount they get in benefits before considering any new restrictions on them.
The group said in a news conference at its office on North Broadway that it had met with state Rep. Brenda Landwehr earlier in the day. Landwehr, R-Wichita, plans to introduce legislation to try to keep Kansas from becoming a “sanctuary state” as undocumented workers leave neighboring states with tougher immigration laws.
In Oklahoma, it is now illegal for anyone to transport or house someone who is in the country illegally. Missouri is also considering tougher immigration legislation.
Sunflower said Oklahoma's economy is suffering a loss of workers, companies and money as illegal immigrants leave the state out of fear, often taking legal family members with them. The group said Kansas' economy would suffer if such legislation became law here.
Landwehr could not be reached Saturday for comment, but she has said that her measure would include new penalties for landlords and businesses that knowingly rent to or employ illegal immigrants, make it illegal for an illegal immigrant to vote, deny public benefits such as welfare to illegal immigrants, and strengthen prosecution and law enforcement efforts. Other lawmakers are expected to offer their own proposals.
Sunflower contends that such legislation would tax an already burdened police force and put unfair pressure on landlords.
Sunflower member Teresa Molina said that Texas conducted a study in 2005 that showed that illegal immigrants there put $17 billion into state coffers, $4 billion more than they had received in benefits.
“If public benefits are being used, where is the proof?” she said of the situation in Kansas.
The group has scheduled a public meeting on the subject at 1 p.m. Feb. 2 at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1356 N. Broadway.