Rally attendees call for Safe and Welcoming Ordinance,
municipal ID, ICE noncompliance





“Mayor Alvey is out of touch with many citizens of Wyandotte County”





Roughly 50 people came out last week to rally and to send KCK Mayor David Alvey a message. They want passage of an ordinance identifying Kansas City, Kansas as a safe and welcoming community for undocumented immigrant.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


Wyandotte County residents gathered in front of City Hall in Kansas City, Ks., July 21 to rally for the passage of an ordinance identifying Kansas City, Kansas as a safe and welcoming community for undocumented immigrants, to begin a program to supply those individuals with valid, government-issued IDs, and to put an end to the city’s cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The rally was sponsored by the Safe and Welcoming Coalition, an organization that has fought for the ordinance for years.


Karla Juarez, a member of the coalition, said she has heard of instances in which undocumented residents have been pulled over by law enforcement and are asked questions that create fear, including, ‘What is your Social Security number?” She also has heard of ICE arresting people after they have already been released from jail.


“This is unfair treatment,” Juarez said at the rally. “Being documented, there are a lot of benefits. There is no fear of being asked these questions.”


Juarez said the goals of the coalition are simple.


“We hope Mayor David Alvey puts a Safe and Welcoming Ordinance up for a vote and it is approved, she said.


So far, the mayor has not been in touch with the coalition, despite the issue being brought directly to him.


“It doesn’t seem weird that he does not offer a response,” Juarez said when told that Mayor Alvey hasn’t responded to correspondence from Kansas City Hispanic News, either. “He does it to our community. He does not answer our calls or our demands. That’s why we’re here today.”


Judy Ancel, one of the rally’s organizers, said the hard work of trying to engage with Mayor Alvey has gone on for years.


“We have been trying to get this passed for four years, since Trump was elected. We have met with the mayor and made appeals to Board of Commissioners,” Ancel said.


She said the coalition’s members have had to take matters into their own hands.


“We held our own hearing online because they wouldn’t give us one,” Ancel noted. “They don’t care about marginalized communities. Immigrants who are not citizens do not vote. The mayor is especially out of touch with many citizens of Wyandotte County. Our working people, our essential workers don’t get enough attention from this government.”


Ancel said she feels those from marginalized communities don’t have a voice with Wyandotte County government.


According to organizers, “(Alvey) has never held a public hearing so people who are in need of (a Safe and Welcoming ordinance) can testify to the commission. … They simply don’t get a hearing from this government.”


Valeria Espadas, another organizer, said the rally attendees’ presence proves the issue should be taken up by the government.


“You guys (participants at rally) are proving to Mayor Alvey and the Board of Commissioners that immigrants are welcome here. This is an immigrant community. By being here, you guys are taking that stance,” Espadas said.


In addition to the adoption of an ordinance, rally organizers are demanding more of the Kansas City, Ks., Unified Government, Espadas said.


“We need an ID and we need ICE noncompliance,” she told the crowd. “That’s the piece they don’t want because it sends a message that immigrants are welcome and ICE is not. The government tries saying, ‘We don’t collaborate with ICE. We just give them courtesy calls.’ We know they do, that’s why this ordinance is so important. It’s time this mayor says, We see you, we hear you, we feel you, you are welcomed here. This is your home.’”


Yazmin Valdez, a speaker at the rally, has worked with the Safe and Welcoming Coalition since she was in high school. Now, the college student said she is angry that work on the ordinance still has seen no progress in the years since then.


“Our mayor and commissioners refuse to hear us,” Valdez said. “One in every four Wyandotte County residents don’t have access to ID. I am turned away for not having an ID not by choice, but by circumstance that the Unified government puts on us.”


The time to change those circumstances, Valdez said, is right now.


“We need the Safe and Welcoming Ordinance now. Our community needs this ordinance,” Bruno stated before leading the crowd in a chant of “Say it loud! Say it clear! Immigrants are welcome here!”


“This will bring undocumented people a sense of belonging,” Valdez concluded. “We deserve to feel safe in a community we helped build.”