Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star, March 10, 2011
A hearing on an Arizona-style immigration law drew impassioned testimony Thursday, including a statement from a former welfare worker who described “overwhelming” levels of fraud by illegal immigrants.
Lana Reed, who worked as a bilingual specialist for the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services in Overland Park from 2008 to 2010, urged lawmakers to adopt the bill targeting illegal immigration. She described a system overrun by illegal immigrants who used false Social Security numbers and other fraudulent documents to game the system.
“I witnessed overwhelming levels of fraud and corruption resulting in the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars,” Reed told the House Judiciary Committee. “Most of the fraud was conducted pursuant to policies of the SRS, which required employees to turn a blind eye to fraud and abuse.”
The bill would require police to check the legal status of those they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally. It would require state and local governments and their contractors to run citizenship checks on new hires and require proof of citizenship for anyone seeking public aid.
In a standing-room-only statehouse hearing room, opponents argued that the measure would stretch already overworked police departments, prove costly to businesses and pose an administrative nightmare for workers who provide health services.
But Kobach [Kris Kobach, secretary of State] insisted the measure would save the state millions in welfare benefits that no longer would be paid to illegal immigrants. He said the four states surrounding Kansas, including Missouri, have adopted “E-verify” programs for their own hiring.
Tom Stoffers of Tonganoxie said the state was being “bled dry” by illegal immigrants who use social services.