Wyandotte County to offer local IDs to immigrants, others

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wyandotte County will begin offering municipal photo IDs to immigrants and other vulnerable residents after county commissioners approved the move in a split vote.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County board voted 6-4 Thursday night to offer the IDs under what was dubbed the “Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte Act,” KCUR reported. The measure will allow immigrants, the homeless, the elderly and others without ready access to state-issued photo IDs like driver’s licenses to get a local photo ID.

The move was backed by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and the Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement.

Yazmin Bruno Valdez, an immigrant and community organizer for Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation, said she lived without legal identification for more than 20 years and often felt ostracized because of it.

Cross Border Network President Judy Ancel said the ordinance will improve trust between Wyandotte’s immigrant community and police because it blocks officers from cooperating or reporting to Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless there is a public safety emergency or they have a warrant signed by a judge.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Friday criticized the ordinance, saying it was possible to “welcome immigrants without ordering police to ignore the law.” He called on the state Legislature to enact a law that clearly prohibits similar ordinances.