Illustrated portrait of Josey Hammer

Editor’s Note: A diverse group of 10 Kansans from across the state started discussing the topics of immigration and demographic change with The Journal, KLC’s civic issues magazine, late last year. As part of their experience, they interviewed each other in pairs about their views and experiences related to immigration. The Journal is publishing highlights from their conversations.

Josey Hammer lives in Courtland, where she works as a photographer, videographer and marketer. In a conversation with Dave Sotelo, Hutchinson, she answered the following questions:

Why is the topic of immigration important to you?

Being in a rural community in north central Kansas, it doesn’t affect me. I don’t want that to sound wrong; it does affect me. But it does not come across in a daily situation for me. And I think that’s actually maybe what bothers me a little bit about it. Because it’s not in-your-face necessarily up here in a lot of our rural communities. It’s not something that people pay as much attention to as I wish that they would.

I also feel like it’s such a hot topic, and it’s such a deep topic, that I don’t feel like it’s something people are ever going to agree on. But I feel like the only way to get people to even come to that middle place to understand each other is that everybody gets to hear the same goods and the bads of all of it. And I think that that has to come from personal experiences, because I feel like that’s the only thing that people are actually going to believe at this point.

I lived in Mexico for a summer in a very rural community down there for three months. It was amazing. The people were amazing. They were wonderful people, and they work hard. If those are the type of people that are trying to come here, I want them to be able to come here. I want them to be able to find jobs and be able to work and create a new life, if that’s what they would like. 

I do feel like rural Kansas, even in this topic, is misunderstood in some ways. I feel like they do care. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that every day, if you’re a farmer, the most important thing to you is going to be, like, right now it’s planting season. So, right now, the most important thing for a farmer up here is: How’s the weather? Can I plant today? Does my equipment work? That’s the primary issue for them on a daily basis.

What’s the question nobody’s asking?

What if some of the things that people say as far as the downside to letting a lot of immigrants in, what if some of those things are true? That’s not what anybody wants to talk about. We want it to be positive, and we want good things to happen. I want people to be able to come, but what if some of those things that people are saying, not all of them necessarily even, but what if just some of them are true?


Sign up for The Journal’s kickoff event on Aug. 17 and learn more about how you can join Hammer in making the conversation about immigration and demographic change in Kansas and beyond healthier.

Read more in the Summer 2023 edition of The Journal, which will be published Aug. 10.

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