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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 8, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Reichert breaks ranks with House GOP leaders, backs citizenship for immigrants

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn has come out in favor of citizenship for undocumented immigrants, joining nearly two dozen of his House Republican colleagues and in defiance of his caucus leadership.

In a radio interview Wednesday with John Carlson of 570 KVI, Reichert said Congress needs to “build a solution around the 12 million (undocumented residents) that are here,” some of whom arrived decades ago.

Reichert said such immigrants have “a debt to pay” to society. But once they’ve paid fines or penalties, Reichert said, they should become full Americans.

“I want to hold them accountable, and then they get citizenship,” said Reichert, a former King County sheriff.

Reichert’s 8th Congressional District was redrawn before the 2012 elections as the first in the state to straddle the Cascade Mountains dividing Western and Eastern Washington. His district stretches from the eastern parts of King and Pierce counties to more rural areas near Wenatchee and Ellensburg with need for farm workers.

The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration bill that includes a path for citizenship for undocumented persons. But Republicans in the House, who control the chamber, have avoided taking up the bill. House Democrats say they have at least 200 votes in favor, which means only 18 GOP members would be needed to pass the whole thing.

According to a tally by America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, Reichert is the 22nd House Republican to publicly declare support for citizenship.

Comments | More in Congress, U.S. House of Representatives | Topics: Dave Reichert, immigration


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