When Arizona passed legislation cracking down on illegal immigration late last week, a shock wave was felt across the nation. The immigration issue has hit close to home, as the Kansas/Missouri DREAM Alliance held a vigil last Sunday night on the Plaza in protest of the bill's passage.
Opponents to the state legislation, such as DREAM, argue that the law allows police to stop anyone suspected of illegal immigration, which would ultimately amount to racial discrimination and profiling. In contrast, proponents of the law, including UMKC Professor Chris Kobach, argue that the law does not go any further than existing federal laws, including the PATRIOT Act, which President Obama extended this past February. Kobach assisted Arizona officials in drafting the controversial legislation.
Arizona lawmakers state that something had to be done, blaming the federal government for its failure to get the illegal alien situation in their state under control. Arizona is second in the world in kidnappings, a statistic they blame on the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens that have taken up residence in the state. Lawmakers also complain that identity theft, fraud, drug related crimes and budget problems have all increased due to the massive influx of illegal immigrants in the state.
Kansas is feeling the heat from numerous cases currently pending in Kansas City, Kansas federal court charging illegal immigrants for crimes ranging from debit card theft and fraud to distribution of cocaine. This week, a Kansas City woman was abducted by two illegal immigrants in what many refer to as a "rapto" case, a crime that is rarely prosecuted in Mexico, where a woman is kidnapped, raped, and forced into marriage as a matter of custom.
As the battle in Arizona over the state's right to crack down on illegal immigration rages, Kansas candidates are keeping a close eye on this topic as the 2010 elections inch closer. Argentine's large Hispanic community will surely be listening.