Photo link: http://www.kansan.com/photos/2010/sep/29/12319/
SUA hosts forum on immigration issues
By Samantha Collins
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
You are driving along a road near the southern borderlands of the United States. An Arizona police officer pulls you over and asks for identification – but you forgot your driver’s license. Under Arizona law SB 1070, if the officer has reason to believe you’re an illegal immigrant, you’re in big trouble. Some worry a similar law may soon come to Kansas.
SUA hosted an immigration forum at the Kansas Union last night to discuss various topics relating to immigration in the United States. The forum was especially concerned with Arizona’s SB 1070, which essentially allows police forces in Arizona to ask for citizens’ documentation at any time, at the police officers’ discretion.
Kris Kobach, a Republican running for Kansas Secretary of State, helped draft SB 1070, which went into effect on April 23. David Trevino, an immigration lawyer from Lawrence and a member of the three-person panel at the forum, said if Kobach was elected, Kansas government would likely push for stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
Trevino said the idea of stricter immigration laws was popular among Kansas citizens, and that if Republicans took office, it’s likely that lawmakers would draft a bill for Kansas similar to SB 1070.
“It concerns me,” Trevino said.
One aspect of the Arizona immigration bill that causes concern is the fear that people stopped by the police will be subjected to racial profiling. People of Hispanic descent will most likely be under scrutiny, the law’s critics say.
Trevino said that although the immigration law specifically forbade racial profiling, it would be almost impossible to stop.
“Racial profiling is part of police work,” Trevino said. “Obviously we are not a color-blind society, so assumptions are made.”
Tanya Golash-Boza, assistant professor of sociology and a member of the panel, said that today in the United States, about 25 percent of undocumented immigrants are not from Latin America. Only about five percent of deported people were from countries other than Latin America. People of European, Middle Eastern and Asian descent are usually not deported.
Kris Velasco, sophomore from Wamego, said he didn’t want to see a form of the Arizona immigration bill come to Kansas. He said he believed that Kansas and Arizona had different social problems, which needed to be addressed in different ways. He said the United States should promote legal immigration by offering more work visas and easing laws to make legal immigration less difficult.
“America is the melting pot of the world, so we need to promote that as much as we can,” Velasco said.
– Edited by Michael Bednar