JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) — A Kansas City area lawmaker has filed a bill that he says will help determine the cost of illegal immigration to taxpayers in Missouri.
The bill is part of an effort to force Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster to sue the federal government to recoup the cost of enforcing federal immigration laws.
“One of the objections we encountered was that there was no known cost to the state. Based on those comments, I asked my office to reach out to state agencies to find out who actually tracked the cost of illegal immigration on Missouri taxpayers,” Kraus said. “The results were under whelming as we found most agencies have no idea of the true cost to taxpayers.”
Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican said Senate Bill 590 would require Missouri schools to check the immigration status of students and allow local police to question a persons citizenship during a traffic stop. Kraus said, his bill would lead to better tracking but wouldn’t keep out students.
But Vanessa Crawford, executive director of Missouri Immigration and Refugee Advocates, called the legislation a “really bad idea.”
Under the bill, schools would be required to ask new students for either a birth certificate or proof they are in the country legally. “This would force police and school officials to act as immigration agents, and would result in innocent people facing harassment,” Crawford said. “And passing a law that will undoubtedly end up in court is irresponsible.”
The Kansas City Star reported similar laws have been passed in Alabama and Arizona. In both states, federal judges have blocked implementation of parts of the laws, with the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments on Arizona’s law.
The bill, which has not been scheduled for a hearing, would require reporting on the number of illegal immigrant students and how many of them are enrolled in programs to help them learn English. Cost information would be part of the report.
Although the bill would bar information about individual students from being released, St. Louis attorney and chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Missouri/Kansas Chapter, Ken Schmitt said it would spook families and result in children being pulled out of school or worst fleeing the state. “The intent of the statues is to have happen exactly what has happen in Alabama.”
The bill also would require law enforcement officers to check immigration status during all stops, “right now they have authorization to only run an individual that they suspect to be here illegally if they arrest them,” explained Kraus. “The bill simply would extend that to include all stops.”
Kraus said none of these proposed items have any significant punitive provision above what is already in current federal law.
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