- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Sedgwick County commissioners on Wednesday approved a resolution asking the Kansas Legislature to stop people living in the U.S. illegally from receiving in-state tuition or from receiving nutritious food through a federal program.

The nonbinding resolution passed 3-2 Wednesday after almost two hours of sometimes heated debate, with most speakers opposing the move, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/29yWiJg ).

Karl Peterjohn, Richard Ranzau and commission Chairman Jim Howell voted for the resolution while Dave Unruh and Tim Norton voted against it.

“This is not local, this is arbitrary; it’s unnecessary, and it just looks like it’s mean-spirited,” speaker Roger Hughey told the commissioners.

Ranzau argued the resolution was about respect for the country.

“This has nothing to do with race, has nothing to do with being unkind or uncompassionate,” Ranzau said. “It is about the law.”

Commissioners who supported the resolution said they want a clear directive from state lawmakers about how to deal with issues involving those in the country illegally.

State law allows the immigrants to receive in-state tuition if they attend a Kansas high school for three years and graduate. And federal law allows the state to determine who is eligible for the Women, Infants and Children program.

A group called Kansas Stronger Together issued a news release Tuesday asking commissioners to reject the resolution. The coalition said preventing those who are here illegally from receiving in-state tuition would deprive Kansas of skilled, taxpaying workers.

“In today’s economy, we need a work force with skilled workers, and a college degree is a precursor to working, paying taxes and contributing to our state,” the group wrote in a letter to Howell.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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