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City Commission votes to declare Lawrence a 'welcoming' city for immigrants, pursue additional support

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on May 3, 2016.

Following calls from students for Lawrence to declare itself a sanctuary community, city commissioners voted at their meeting Tuesday to proclaim Lawrence a “welcoming” city for immigrants.

The proclamation states, in part, that the city is an inclusive community that values immigrants and that the safety of all people should be protected, but does not use the term "sanctuary." Commissioners said the distinction was important in the midst of executive orders from President Donald Trump and potential state legislation that could threaten millions of dollars of federal and state funding were Lawrence to be designated a sanctuary city.

“I think staff did a really good job to make sure that we did not cross that line,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said.

Along with the proclamation, commissioners approved five other recommendations from staff of supportive actions the city can take. Those include authorizing staff to write letters of opposition to the pending state legislation, reach out to interested agencies to discuss the city’s position, and work with the University of Kansas to co-sponsor a community presentation on immigration law.

Commissioner Matthew Herbert said that he thought a community conversation that covered immigration jurisdiction and what the city does and does not have power over was a “key piece of public education.”

One example of an area the city doesn't have jurisdiction over is the Douglas County Jail. Assistant City Manager Casey Toomay noted that the City Commission does not have authority over the jail, which is operated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office reports all inmate information as required by federal law, and does not honor stand-alone 48-hour detainer holds from federal immigration agencies.

A proclamation, by definition, does not have the effect of a law or ordinance, but Tuesday’s meeting included an overview of what policies and practices affecting immigration exist in the city, specifically those of the Lawrence police department.

Capt. Anthony Brixius said that in the line of its duties, the Lawrence police department does not check or report people's immigration status to federal immigration agencies, with exceptions made for some felony investigations. Apart from being outside of the department’s local duties, Brixius said that practice is important to the relationship with the community.

“If we are running the immigration status of every victim or witness that we come into contact with, we don’t have the ability to have open relationships (and) get information to be able to solve crimes,” Brixius said.

The requests, from the students of Lawrence High School and the University of Kansas, came on the heels of the election of Trump. Following up on campaign promises, Trump issued an executive order in January to ramp up immigration enforcement and threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary communities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration agencies.

KU Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn told commissioners that they could show their support for marginalized groups and still receive their funding.

“I urge you all to please pass these recommendations,” Alcorn said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the “welcoming” proclamation, as well as the five recommendations that backed additional supports for immigrants.


In other business, the commission:

•Deferred a decision on an ordinance that would license and regulate massage therapy businesses within the city, as requested by the district attorney’s office. Massage therapy businesses are currently unregulated by state law or city ordinance, and the district attorney’s office has called for regulations on them to combat human trafficking. A group representing local massage businesses spoke in opposition to some provisions of the ordinance, such as client record-keeping, saying they were onerous, but was generally in support of licensing. Commissioners deferred the item in order to discuss it further, including collaborating with county leaders, at a future work session.

• Adopted the City of Lawrence strategic plan and eight short-term priorities. The priorities were identified by commissioners at a meeting Feb. 20, and include finishing the East Ninth Street Project, bringing fiber internet to the community and developing a master plan for downtown. The priorities are related to broader elements of the strategic plan, which were broken into seven “critical success factors” that covered topics such as economic growth, fiscal planning and commitment to core services.

Comments

Bob Smith

Welcoming immigrants is not the same as harboring illegal aliens. The commission went the weasel-words route and attempted to keep everybody happy.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Callahan

You nailed it, Bob.

9 months, 1 week ago

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RJ Johnson

No Bob Smith, they went with following the law of the land!!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

As long as the poor give up their fair share of benefits to these criminals, I'm ok with it.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Dane Hicks

No one, even the dastardly and detestable Donald Trump (whose mere presence in the White house has bolstered EVERYONE's 401k, mutual fund and 529 college savings plan) has an issue with immigrants. The issue, my myopic ear wax-encrusted liberal friends, is with ILLEGAL immigrants. Strange how a political segment which understands the law so well when it comes to the right to kill their fetuses can't grasp the concept of legality when it comes to immigration.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Callahan

Marginalized. Hilarious....

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Quenette

That's the money word on campus. That gets you everything.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Lee Henry

Illegal is the key word I believe...and if they come here then they should honor our Flag and speak our language...no benefits until they become citizens and obey our laws ...easy to understand why Americans are unhappy with the way things are going we're still waiting for that plane load of Hollywood wannabe Canadians to board the plane....

9 months, 1 week ago

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Mel Deutsch

What a joke commissioners!!! "welcoming city" which is a sanctuary city in waiting, and I hope they get nailed with this. ILLEGAL ALIENS love the liberal Welcoming Cities. Damn hard to pay our taxes in this liberal town,that will always listen to ole ku first

9 months, 1 week ago

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Kevin Anderson

I have lived in Lawrence for nearly 20 years. I shop in Lawrence, pay property taxes in Lawrence, fund charities, and schools in Lawrence. Why is the city bowing down to the college, and high school students? They will be gone in a few years.
I guess it's time to spend my money in Kansas City, and Topeka instead of Lawrence.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Scott, If you feel like talking about it, how are things going for you, Andrea, and your family? Hope some good breaks have been coming your way.

As for the article, nothing particularly noteworthy here. Maybe KU should implement such a sentiment when it comes to welcoming opposing views.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Quenette

I can happily announce that Andrea has found employment far away from this cesspool and we will be moving this Summer. Still in the midwest, only a part with a little more common sense. Keeping details under wraps at the moment because vindictive children know no bounds.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

*vindictive children know no bounds*. Liberal children. heh....good luck y'all

9 months, 1 week ago

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Matthew Herbert

I'd hate to let facts get in the way of your anger, but your first three examples: Oread, Rock Chalk Park and the police station sales tax vote all happened years before I joined the commission. As to your fourth example of our former mayor, he was off the commission within months of my joining.
As to "sanctuary city status" I encourage you to read the proclamation. You will find this does not now, nor was it ever worded to, establish "sanctuary city" status.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Quenette

So, you basically did nothing but window dressing last night? I hope you're not getting paid much.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Matthew Herbert

About $12/day after taxes.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Daniel Schmidt

I have a question; is Lawrence now a 'Welcoming City' for LEGAL AND ILLEGAL immigrants?

9 months, 1 week ago

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Matthew Herbert

Welcoming city does not change immigration policy which is set by the federal government, nor detainer policy once at the jail which is set by the county.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Brock Masters

Right, it changes nothing but wasted tax dollars to do it. I hope the students are smart enough to know it was a fraud so both sides of the issue can vote against you.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Mel Deutsch

My question to Daniel. Matthew you know as welll as I do that you bowing to ole ku on "welcoming city" is but a step away from sanctuary status. and explain to me how are you going to vet the legal and illegals, and again who's tax $$ will be spent doing that. Rather than getting a grip on yourselves and just saying know you had to go down this road, and I for one would love to see liberal lawrence in my rear view mirror, and would if it were not for raising grandkids, but maybe that should be my reason

9 months, 1 week ago

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Matthew Herbert

City government is not involved in the immigrant vetting process. Immigration policy and enforcement is the jurisdiction of the federal government.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Scott Burkhart

Not so, Mr. Herbert. A law enforcement officer is responsible for ALL law enforcement whether you want to admit it or not. If an individual is placed in custody and is found to be an ILLEGAL alien, law enforcement is OBLIGATED to notify ICE. To ignore this obligation is to flaunt federal law and commit dereliction of duty. I would agree that it is not up to law enforcement to seek out illegal aliens but to knowingly ignore an individual that is known to be undocumented should be punishable within itself.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Brock Masters

I watched CNN and they profiled an illegal alien who had used a forged visa and was now being deported after being here for 18 years.

They held her up as a martyr being ripped from her family. Besides the obvious of her being here illegally and using false docs twice, what struck me was she couldn't speak English. They had to use an interpreter to interview her.

18 years and she can't speak English? This is a woman who doesn't want to be American and assimilate into our society. We don't need her and I am glad she is being deported.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

Exactly. There are millions of criminals like her turning America into a country like they evacuated.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Congratulations, Scott and Andrea. May all of your future dreams come true.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Jason Johnson

If you know of someone who is an illegal alien, here's the ICE tip website and phone number:

1-866-DHS-2-ICE

https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form

9 months, 1 week ago

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Richard Heckler

I must say Matthew Herbert has grown on me .....

On another note how can the immigrants get busted without busting the employers?

I say all of the rhetoric about illegal immigrants is exactly that .... campaign rhetoric nothing more. It's been a campaign issue for at least 37 years yet nothing has changed. Neither Reagan,Bush or Bush did anything significant against immigrants just talked about it.

The anti union crowd love the immigrants because immigrants keep wages down around the bottom. So if all the immigrants disappear the conservative wing nuts are pushing "Right To Work" legislation to keep wages down around the bottom. Who wants to work for less?

How many are willing to quit shopping Wal-Mart?

Trump the Rump is full of nonsense. Blowing billions on a wall is nonsense. Reckless indeed.

The only answer to lower wages and new employment with higher sustainable wages is bringing back those USA corporations that left the american well paid workers behind yes high and dry.

Keep a close eye on the conservative Leveraged Buyout boys and girls that keep putting Americans out of work. Yes some very famous american names behind the leveraged buyout scam.

9 months, 1 week ago

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David Holroyd

Leonard Pitts said that "immigrants booked passage". Are these immigrants from the south of the US booking passage and arriving at Ellis Island?

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bob Smith

In other "immigrant" news: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...
"...Sanchez, a native of Guatemala who arrived in the United States about seven months ago, has a pending “alien removal” case against him, court officials said Friday. “He is a substantial flight risk,” Montgomery County Assistant States Attorney Rebecca MacVittie said in court Friday...."

9 months ago

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