Kansas City Mayor, School District Superintendent Call On Congress To Pass DACA Legislation

Sep 22, 2017

KCPS Supt. Mark Bedell (left) and Kansas City Mayor Sly James pictured during a recent interview on KCUR's Up To Date. The two called on Congress to pass legislation regarding DACA.
Credit Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Two prominent leaders in Kansas City called on Congress today to pass legislation that would continue to protect from deportation those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, or DACA. 

Ana Jimenez, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, says her parents brought her to America when she was just ten and sacrificed everything so she could go to college. DACA allowed her to get a social security number and a drivers license.

"DACA has changed my life for the better," says Jimenez. "It gave me the opportunity to come out of the shadows and for a short period of time I thought that I had achieved the American dream.”

Jimenez appeared on a press call with Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell and Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

James put an economic spin the issue. He quoted a Center for American Progress study that said DACA recipients account for $209 million in economic activity in Missouri alone.

“These folks who are DACA recipients work in every single sector of the economy and of the country from small business to Fortune 500 companies and our business and our community know the value of having dreams in their midst on a day-to-day basis,” says James.

That same study said that killing the DACA program would cost Kansas $336 million a year in gross domestic product.

Bedell says DACA is "near and dear" to the heart of his school district and diversity is one of the district's strengths. He says he's committed to serving all students no matter where they come from or their immigration status. All he cares about is educating children.

“What often slows down that process is when kids are having to worry about deportation or the ability to be able to attend a college or university upon graduation and having the access and the opportunity to achieve the American dream,” says Bedell.

The next deadline DACA recipients have to worry about is Oct. 5. That's when they must get their application for their DACA renewal applications into by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or risk deportation.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.