Kansas City, Mo. – Local immigration reform activists discussed human rights issues and recent attempts in Kansas and Missouri to pass potentially discriminatory laws after a screening of the documentary “The State of Arizona” Saturday, Nov. 11, 2013 at The Tivoli Cinemas.
The film, which is part of KCPT’s monthly Community Cinema series, examines Arizona’s controversial immigration law Senate Bill (SB) 1070, also known as the “Show Me Your Papers” law, that allowed police to ask anyone they lawfully stopped for their immigration papers if police suspected that the person was undocumented. From the passage of the bill to the Supreme Court, the documentary follows its proponents and opponents, including undocumented workers and their families.
Jessica Piedra is an immigration attorney specializing in helping families through the immigration process and spoke after the film about how SB 1070 has impacted immigration reform locally.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of these types of bills in both the Missouri and the Kansas legislature,” said Piedra. “We did get a [SB 1070] copycat bill in Missouri two sessions ago. It was kind of a blend of the worst parts of the Arizona and the Alabama bills. Missouri HB 390 would have required schools to register both student’s and their parents’ immigration status.”
Layla Razavi also spoke after the film and works for the National ACLU as Regional Counsel on the Immigrants’ Initiative, a $9 million campaign that was started after the passage of SB 1070 to fight back against state anti-immigrant measures and to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
“I think a lot of things that were talked about coming out of Arizona are really not unique to Arizona. They happen in and around the KC Metro, and they happen throughout the region,” Razavi said. “The people who are the main architects of SB 1070— and this isn’t something worth mincing words about, it’s Kris Kobach who wrote the bill, and we’re in his backyard — those folks are here and connected to our law enforcement, and we see the same practices happening across the KC Metro area and, in particular, on the Kansas side.”
One of the main focuses of the film is racial profiling and its consequences.
“Whether or not racism exists in the undertones of these bills, I think it was Representative Virgil Peck that made a comment on the [Kansas House] floor that they should chase down these Mexicans and shoot them like wild boar,” said guest speaker James Ryan, a UMKC law student and president of UMKC’s chapter of the American Constitution Society. “When people speak on the floor and they’re open to saying these sorts of things, it becomes pretty real.”
Ryan was correct in identifying Representative Peck, who two years ago when the Kansas House was discussing controlling the wild pig population by shooting them from helicopters said, ““It looks like to me that if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem.” Peck later issued a two-sentence apology for his remarks.
“The State of Arizona” will air on Independent Lens on KCPT Jan. 27, 2014 at 9 p.m.