No one likes a hypocrite.
The sort of person, say a politician, who makes money off people, then turns around and presses legislation that would harm those same folks.
Using people like pawns to stock the bank account. Then attacking those families to curry political points.
The real estate holdings of Kansas Rep. Jerry Lunn of Overland Park fall under this lens. Lunn is among legislators who sponsored a bill to end in-state tuition for some immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. These are the so-called Dreamer students. About 650 are enrolled in Kansas, mostly at community colleges.
A heated hearing Thursday ended with the bill being tabled, a move Lunn opposed.
Lunn owns the old Bethany Medical office building, which houses a children’s clinic and other medical services serving the underinsured and uninsured, many of whom are Latino immigrants. Some of the young patients could potentially qualify someday for the in-state fees — if the 10-year-old law allowing it survives.
The children are growing up in Wyandotte County. Their parents pay sales taxes and property taxes through their rents.
But that’s not good enough for politicians who every year try to end the in-state tuition offering. To qualify, the students have to spend at least three years at, and graduate from, a Kansas high school, among other factors. Many enrolled now under the law have a temporary legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program of the Obama administration. Higher out-of-state fees would make college impossible for most.
Lunn, by many accounts, is a good landlord. The building’s tenants help fill the health care void created when Bethany Medical closed.
And in reality, all Americans are complicit because we benefit from why many immigrants come to the U.S. The ties between migrant labor, some of it illegal, and the rest of us is a tangled web. Everyone who puts food in their belly partakes. Our food chain is often dependent on this labor — whether it is harvesting vegetables and fruits, meat production, dairy or the kitchen of your favorite restaurant.
Our focus ought to be on pressing Congress for reforms. Industries that hire immigrant labor need a legal system that is nimble enough to respond to shifting needs. We do not have a well-functioning visa program. It’s a fairness problem that fuels the undocumented labor market.
Going after the children of these workers? That’s shameful.