‘All are welcome’: Mayor Lucas invites migrants overwhelming other cities to work in KC

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says the local labor market would benefit from an influx of workers seeking asylum in the United States legally but who are now stuck in crowded shelters in big cities like New York as they await work permits.

“All are welcome in Kansas City,” Lucas said Tuesday in a social media post in which he shared a Bloomberg.com article that quoted him saying the Kansas City area could use more workers for its burgeoning economy.

“Proud to work with my fellow mayors like @MikeJohnstonCO and @NYCMayor,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, referring to Denver’s mayor and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, “as we work to ensure decompression of new arriving communities and collaboration among cities, labor, non-profits, and federal officials.”

Those cities and others, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, have struggled to accommodate several hundred thousands of immigrants who have arrived at the country’s southern border and could be waiting for years to have their asylum cases adjudicated.

The Biden administration has tried to ease the burden on those communities by allowing those migrants from Venezuela and other Central American countries to work legally while they await a final finding on their status.

Kansas City has not been inundated with migrants the way some large cities have. Lucas told Bloomberg that local employers could use some of that potential source of labor.

“We need a lot more employees,” Lucas told Bloomberg. “If there are people who are willing and ready to work, then I believe that there could be a place for them.”

The article noted that construction and manufacturing are booming in the metro area and singled out the Panasonic battery plant in DeSoto and the Meta data center project in the Northland as examples.

“Amid the construction boom, more than 70% of contractors in Missouri and Kansas say they can’t find enough workers,” the Bloomberg article said.

Lucas said the new city budget has $1 million set aside to provide refugees and migrants with short-term housing, health care and job training.

His repost of the Bloomberg article drew almost universal condemnation from the 390 comments below it as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We don’t want this here in Kansas City.

We don’t deserve this, Mayor Q. Stop this now,” one woman wrote.

“New York and Denver are both cities in decline! Guess where KC is headed! All city services will decline with more burden and less contributing,” said another critic.

But a very few sided with Lucas.

“Proud of my hometown,” one former resident wrote. “I’m a little sad (but happy for the town) that KC elected the best mayor of my lifetime a couple years after I moved away.”

While Lucas often engages with commenters on X, he didn’t in this case.