Kansas City, Kan. — More than 700 people and 36 organizations traveled from across the country to Kansas City on June 15 to demand a fair and just immigration policy. They particularly directed their fire at Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state.
“Every time immigration is tied with Kansas, people automatically think of Kris Kobach, who has made a name for himself and a living off of pushing for self-deportation laws at the national level,” stated Sulma Arias, executive director of Sunflower Community Action, a sponsor of the June 15 events. “Kobach does not represent Kansas values, and he needs to step aside.”
An event at Trinity Methodist Church began with a prayer vigil, in which leaders shared personal testimonies about how the current broken immigration system affects their daily lives. Many described how raids and deportations continue to rip their families and communities apart.
A Town Hall meeting on immigration immediately followed the vigil. A broad, diverse range of labor, community and faith-based leaders demanded that Kansas elected officials, in particular Sen. Jerry Moran, support a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Despite repeated requests from event organizers, Moran refused to attend.
“We’re here today because we want Senator Moran to protect the path to citizenship for Kansan families,” said Armando Minjarez, a leader of Sunflower Community Action. “Like millions of others, I’m constantly living under the fear that my mother or brother could be detained and deported. Kansans want to know, which side are you on, Moran? You either stand with Kansas or you stand with Kobach.”
Following the Town Hall meeting, more than 300 of the participants went directly to Kobach’s home, just a few miles from the church. They went up to his front door to demand that he stop his racist anti-immigrant activities and step down as secretary of state. Kobach has devastated communities. By helping to write and implement “Show Me Your Papers” and other anti-immigrant laws affecting Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania and other states, he has helped impose enormous financial costs on many states. A trail of shoes was left on Kobach’s front steps to symbolize all the families torn apart by his and like-minded politicians’ actions.
Ana Mancebo, a participant in the June 15 actions and a leader with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said, “I came all the way from Iowa to tell Kris Kobach to stop spreading his policies that are hurting families and communities across the country. We will not stand for it at the state level. and we will not stand for it at the national level.”
For more information on immigration struggles in Kansas, see sunfloweract.org.