WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County commissioners on Wednesday passed a resolution that would keep undocumented citizens in Kansas from getting benefits from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. It also limits who can be eligible for in-state tuition at state universities.
Since the WIC program is federally funded, meaning the federal government writes the rules about how it is administered, WIC is available to women and children in a low-income bracket.
The resolution, which is non-binding, says the state should change its rules to override federal law so no undocumented foreign nationals receive benefits.The document would restrict the federal WIC program to legal residents of Kansas only.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau said it’s an issue of being responsible to county taxpayers.
“I have to decide as a matter of public policy, should we force the taxpayers to subsidize unlawful behavior and to me that answer is, no,” said Ranzau.
The resolution would also strip in-state tuition from undocumented workers.
Nearly 20 speakers told the commissioners they should not pass the resolution.
“I’ve done a huge amount of research and what they are doing basically is killing the WIC program,” said Sedgwick County resident Gretchen Eick.
She said if state agencies agree with the resolution and kills WIC benefits for undocumented citizens in Kansas, the federal WIC contract could be broken, potentially stopping all WIC benefits in Kansas.
Still, two people spoke in favor of the resolution. One of them was former county commissioner Kelly Parks.
“You have a right and an obligation to have checks and balances and to question taxpayers expenses,” Parks said.
The issue was brought up and debated last month where a majority of commissioners said they supported the idea.
The commission passed the resolution 3-2 Wednesday just before noon. Commissioners Karl Peterjohn, Richard Ranzau, and Jim Howell voted in favor. Commissioners Dave Unruh and Tim Norton voted against.