With migrants from virtually every corner of the world, Kansas City’s ethnic and racial makeup is a complex tapestry, layered and ever-changing,
There are struggles, but people find their way here as they learn English, start businesses, graduate from area schools and marry into other communities. Successive generations are proudly Kansas City-born. The pattern is as true now as it was for the Irish, Italians, Mexicans and Croatians of past decades.
But today, many of our newest arrivals feel threatened. They hear the rising tones of anti-immigrant rhetoric and the turmoil precipitated by the new president’s executive orders. Anxieties are high.
People are worried about increased deportations, family members being separated and the highly publicized blocks that have temporarily stopped even some legal permanent residents from traveling into the U.S. Misinformation and confusion abound.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II is organizing a welcome — and well timed — response.
The congressman will hold a town hall meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Manual Career and Technical Center, 1215 E. Truman Rd.
As is the case with many members of Congress, Cleaver’s offices have been inundated with questions.
Cleaver, a former mayor of Kansas City and a United Methodist minister, wisely is tamping down fears by arming his constituents with information.
“We’re doing everything that we can to try and keep fear from turning into hysteria,” the Missouri Democrat said. Of course, he noted, “That’s easy for me to say as a U.S. citizen.”
The Latino community is particularly fearful. A recent meeting to organize those who work with immigrant communities was overflowing with concerned agency heads, teachers, attorneys and advocates.
People are encouraged to submit testimony and questions to: CleaverTownHall@mail.house.gov. The forum will allow people to voice concerns and learn about their legal rights. There will also be immigration attorneys and other advocates to answer questions more privately. Interpreters will be available.
Cleaver hopes to convey that immigrants have allies in Kansas City.
As the congressman correctly notes, “The failure for us would be not to stand up for people who are under assault.”