I was so proud to have been a part of the group of activists today who gave up their days and traveled to Jefferson City and crammed themselves in the small, hot hearing room 1 and waited patiently for their turns to testify. The hearing started with Sen. Kraus giving his reasons for proposing this bill and saying that it was basically just a document check and would definitely not over burden the schools, because, hey he already has to provide an electricity bill to prove he is living in the school district, so this is just one more quick look at a document in that same vein. (Wow what a ridiculous over simplification of determining one’s immigration status). He also says that he thinks that requiring schools to then determine how educating these non-citizens (not even bothering to differentiate between non-citizens who are legally present and undocumented non-citizens) or the children of non-citizens (not bothering to mention the kids could be US Citizens while the parents are not) impacts the quality of education for all the tax payers. Wow. It was hard to contain myself. While I am not surprised when people on Facebook make comments like “illegals don’t pay taxes” it is hard for me to believe that a Senator would actually not only think that but base a whole bill around that. (Property tax, sales tax and income tax are all paid by undocumented people) Mr. Kraus goes on to explain that this proposal is only to get hard numbers together to show to the Federal Government to illustrate the problems their inaction is having. As if this is going to produce a magic number that will spur Congress into action. Then he moves on to the 2nd part of the bill that mandates that local law enforcement determine the immigration status by running an “immigration check” (This does not exist) whenever they have reasonable suspicion that someone is illegal (i.e. brown and speaks with an accent). One of Mr. Kraus’ cohorts pipe’s in with a question wanting him to clarify that this “reasonable suspicion” standard is not to be used to make the stop, but only after the person is stopped for some other reason (like the magical forcefield that causes the license plate lights to malfunction on all cars driven by Hispanics as soon as they enter the Lee’s Summit city limits). Mr. Kraus quickly confirmed that the person could not be stopped simply because they were D.W.B (driving while brown) but the officer could become reasonably suspicious after a traffic stop for other reasons ( see the magical forcefield) because the person was acting all illegal and undocumented.
I would like to personally thank Sen. Kiki Curls for jumping to the defense of potential victims of this law. She made excellent, passionate arguments against any law that racially profiles as this one clearly does, even pointing out that people who looked like Mr. Kraus would never be asked their immigration status, and arguing that any law that so burdens local law enforcement and local schools and that targets and alienates children is never good for our communities. She was marvelous and I am so glad that she spoke up and is on that committee. Thank you Ms. Curls!!
After this into one lone tea partier from St. Louis spoke about outdated terms regarding “INS” which does not exist anymore and hasn’t for years and the inability of local law enforcement to contact ICE officers for weeks. He obviously has not been a cop for a while because ICE officers are anything but inaccessible anymore. His comments were followed by testimony in opposition to the bill by over 15 people. They finally had to end the meeting because they ran out of time. At least 40 more people were present that did not get to testify but who were also in opposition. Individuals and organizations from around the state came together on pretty short notice and made a great showing. ACLU of Eastern Missouri, Immigration Attorneys Angela Ferguson, Stephen Blower, Vanessa Crawford of MIRA, Whitney Buchmann from CCO in Kansas City, Lynda Callon from the Westside CAN Center in Kansas City, community activist Florintino Camacho, Alaide Vilchis who sent in written testimony, 2 very brave DREAMers Roberto and Ricardo, who testified about making the country they love better even though they are, themselves undocumented, Laura Alvarez on behalf of SEIU Local 1 Missouri Division, and a very many others especially you folks from St. Louis who’s names I do not have, it was an amazing turn out and effort. Will it do any good? Maybe. Maybe not, but our voices are on the record. There was no vote today so please bombard the committee members with emails and phone calls discussing your opposition. Tell personal stories, use facts, talk about why it will hurt local communities and school. I think Dr. King might have been proud today. This fight is far from over. And woe unto us if the Supremes decide in favor of Arizona and let their law stand.
If I have forgotten your name or your organization’s name, please email me your info so I can post it.