Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Kansas City Star. September 8, 2021.

Editorial: ‘Prisoners in their home:’ Overland Park student still hopes family can escape Kabul

Samad, an Afghan student who has lived here for a decade, watched footage from the Kabul airport after the Taliban took over Afghanistan with even deeper horror than the rest of us. His mother, father, two brothers and two sisters were in that crowd.

They never made it out, but haven’t given up.

Since the U.S. military airlift, which evacuated about 122,000 people, has ended, Samad is pleading for someone, somehow to help rescue his family. He’s certain their lives are in danger because they are Sunni and are Hazaras — an ethnic minority group long persecuted by the Taliban for their ethnicity and religious beliefs. We’re not using his full name here because of his fear of retaliation.

“I’m scared the Taliban will take my sisters,” Samad said.

They don’t have passports, visas or other travel documents. His dad’s papers proving his employment as a security guard for Norwegian Church Aid might help. His 29-year-old sister is a student at American University in Kabul, but her special P1 visa wasn’t enough to get her out. She was among the student group stranded at a safe house after being told by the university, which had tried to arrange safe passage for them out of Kabul, that all flights had been canceled.

Later, his sister and others returned to their homes at the instruction of university officials. An email from a friend warned, “ISIS is searching for students.” She destroyed everything she had linking her to American University.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said his office is working with the U.S. Department of State to identify those like Samad’s family who are trapped in Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, Cleaver’s office had requests to help 50 such people. On Friday, they had 300 on the list and it was still growing. “So far we have helped 20 people evacuate,” Cleaver said. “I wish the numbers were better. But we are hoping to get as many out as we can.”

People here with friends or family stuck in Afghanistan should definitely call the congressman’s office, or that of U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids.

“People without the proper paperwork are going to have a difficult time getting out,” Cleaver told us. “But it’s not impossible. I don’t think this person ought to give up. People are being liberated from Afghanistan probably as I speak.”

Some private contractors, including some retired military, he said, are helping people leave.

Samad, 35, came to the Kansas City area 10 years ago on a student visa to attend Johnson County Community College. He lives in Overland Park now, and is studying computer technology at Park University.

On Aug. 16, when he saw what was happening in Kabul, “I could not breathe,” he said during an interview at the Della Lamb Community Services refugee resettlement office in Kansas City. “The first thing, I called my parents. I told them, hurry, go to the airport. My mom, she was panicking and scared. I could hear the fear in her voice, she was shaking.”

During the three days they spent at the airport, he called nearly every hour: “I asked, did you get through? Are you getting on a plane? And every time, no.”

On the third day, they ran for a plane. “They got close but they did not make it,” Samad said. “I told them to go home” after that, out of fear of a terror attack. The next day, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive there, killing nearly 100 people, including 13 U.S. service members.

Now Samad’s parents and siblings are “prisoners in their home,” he said. “They locked the doors. They don’t want to go outside.”

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Topeka Capital-Journal. September 10, 2021.

Editorial: Decisions made in Texas could affect Kansas, including legislation coming out of the Statehouse

It’s time to have a chat about Texas.

Yet again decisions made in the Lone Star State are affecting the Sunflower State. Frankly, it’s getting old.

This time, it’s restrictions on abortion access are causing Texans to make their way north.

We’re not about to debate the morality of abortion. Kansas is a state of diverse opinions on this matter. We will, however, point out that Roe v. Wade established the legal precedent for women to get one if they choose.

Texas law bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur at six weeks. While there are no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest, an abortion can be performed later if a medical emergency occurs.

Furthermore, it allows private individuals and organizations to sue a doctor or clinic that performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A successful plaintiff in such a case could receive at least $10,000 from the abortion provider or others in damages.

We are more concerned about what kind of impact this law will have in Kansas.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reported in 2020, 289 Texans traveled to Kansas for an abortion, while 277 came from Oklahoma and 74 were from Arkansas. In 2019, those numbers were 25, 85 and 40, respectively. Could more be on the way?

We admit there’s a lot of nuance to what’s unfolding seeing that the U.S. Attorney general Merrick Garland is suing the state of Texas over its new law. There’s more to come.

We have some thoughts and concerns.

Could this lead to the passage of a similar law in Kansas? There is a constitutional amendment on the upcoming August 2022 primary ballot that could put restrictions on abortion access.

What kind of complications might come about from something like that? Would courts be backlogged by lawsuits against those who received or assisted in an abortion?

Would everyday Kansans become vigilantes? With restrictions in place, would Kansas see an uptick of other medical problems as a result of unsafe and/or botched abortions?

The Texas law doesn’t take into account acts of rape or incest. Would a Kansas law?

This law essentially seems to be an effort to bypass the current law of the land. Can that even be done?

Voters should consider these before casting their ballots.

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