While I am a fourth generation Kansan, born and raised in Marshall county, from 1982 - 1998 I lived and worked in Italy. The first four years I lived in Italy, I did so as an undocumented worker. Thus I know well what it means to be an immigrant and why HB 2372 is a morally corrupted piece of legislation.
According to the US Census Bureau, the foreign-born share of Kansas' population rose from 2.5 percent in 1990 to 5.9 percent in 2008. More than four in five (or 85%) of children in immigrant families were born in the US. Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add $10 billion and thousands of jobs to the Kansas economy. In 2009 the purchasing power of Hispanic Americans in Kansas totaled $5.2 billion - an increase of 488 percent since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.1 billion - an increase of 418 percent. Immigrants comprise 7.3 percent of the Kansas workforce.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2009 roughly 2.8% of the Kansas workforce was undocumented -- meaning they did not possess the papers needed to work here. Research conducted by the Perryman Group found the following: If all undocumented immigrants were removed from Kansas, the state would lose $1.8 BILLION in economic activity; would lose $807 million in gross state product; and, roughly 12,000 jobs.
At a moment when Kansas is facing a catastrophic economic crisis, can we afford to cause this much damage to an already depressed economy?
But moreover the cost of the implementation of the Arizona law which HB 2372 imitates has been disastrous for that state:
New America Media reports that Arizona has lost $141 million due to the cancellation of conferences and conventions, as a result of a national boycott that was launched against the state following its passage of the immigration law SB 1070. Center for American Progress found that some 2,761 jobs were lost in the convention industry while hotels and conference venues have lost $45 million in revenues.
In order to implement the Arizona legislation, the Yuma County Sherriff's estimated the cost to Yuma County law-enforcement agencies to be:
* Law-enforcement agencies would spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses;
* Jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720;
* Attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1.6 million;
* Additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs.
Where will the state and county governments come up with this funding when we have had to cut basic, life-saving services to those living in poverty, the elderly, the mentally ill and those with disabilities and our schools?
Howard Fisher, a reporter for the East Valley Tribune in Arizona, reports that from July to October 2010, SB 1070 cost the state over $1 million in in legal fees with a total budget of over $3.6 million needed to defend the legislation in court. How can Kansas AFFORD SUCH AN EXPENDITURE to advance an fascist xenophobic law?
The great American Henry Wallace in 1942 defined Fascism as the lust for money or power combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make one ruthless in one’s use of deceit or violence to attain one ends.
American fascists, such as Kris Kobach, are easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Kobach’s anti-immigrant propaganda is designed to challenge democracy. While claiming to be a super-patriot, he aims to destroy every liberty guaranteed by the US and Kansas Constitutions.
Kansas cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars so one individual can impose his xenophobic fear on our state. I encourage you to stand on the side of the American Dream and our democracy and stand against the "impostures of pretended patriotism” (George Washington).
I hope you will join me in speaking out against this waste of taxpayer dollars and the racism Kris Kobach is trying to force on our state.