An amendment to a bill offered by Republican Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder could cost some Kansas counties federal funding.
Yoder’s proposal would strip existing Federal Emergency Management Agency grants away from local governments that are not fully enforcing national immigration policies.
Under the amendment, Shawnee, Johnson and Sedgwick counties could all lose a substantial amount of federal money. They would still be eligible for disaster aid.
Since 2010, Shawnee County has received around $92,000 a year from FEMA to fund two positions. Dusty Nichols, with the Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management, says one of those workers organizes and maintains equipment. He says losing that person would affect more than just Shawnee County.
“This stuff is used throughout the region, somewhat on a frequent basis. So if we didn’t have the money to keep that person or that salary, we couldn’t maintain the equipment which leads to negative impacts not just in Shawnee County but potentially all of our partners in the region and the state, as well,” says Nichols.
He says the loss of FEMA grants could have a long-term impact.
“In a year from now, we’d still be okay. But three, five years from now, the impact would be we may not have the equipment, we may not have the planners, we may not have the plan updated enough,” says Nichols.
Six counties in Kansas could become ineligible for grants because they refuse to comply with a federal request to detain some immigrants in the country illegally. The local governments say they're refusing unless there's probable cause or an order from a judge.
Yoder says ignoring federal immigration laws hurts the safety of American citizens. He cited a report listing his home county, Johnson County, and five other Kansas counties as violating federal immigration rules.
The Department of Homeland Security would have to certify that local governments are complying with federal immigration rules.
CJ Grover, with Yoder's office, says Yoder and his staff don't believe the amendment would affect Johnson County.
"Congressman Yoder is confident that Johnson County will be able to make that certification. The goal of the amendment is to ensure that every jurisdiction listed in the study - or any study for that matter - is not defying federal law," says Grover.
David Gernon contributed to this article.