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November 8, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Updated at 1:17 p.m. with comment from protest organizers
After a group of women was arrested at state Republican Party headquarters in Bellevue on Thursday during a protest about national immigration policy, state GOP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison issued a friendly statement saying she shared their concerns.
“Like them, we agree that our immigration system is broken and we must find a solution,” Hutchison said, saying it was “unfortunate” she was in Washington, D.C., and unable to hear the protesters’ concerns.
But former state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur had a more hostile reaction, taking to Twitter to lob personal insults at the group.
“I missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly…” Wilbur tweeted.
Police arrested 33 women at the Bellevue protest, including Peggy Lynch, the wife of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. The women were arrested in an act of civil disobedience after refusing to leave when asked by the building owner.
Keith Schipper, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, said the group clearly wanted to get arrested, but did not get personally insulting toward GOP staff. “The ghost of Kirby Wilbur has no influence on the Washington State Republican Party any more. He doesn’t speak for the party,” Schipper said.
Wilbur, the former conservative talk-radio host, quit as state Republican Party chair in July to take a job with Young America’s Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Asked whether he thought his tweet was appropriate, Wilbur emailed “Yup.” He added in a subsequent email that liberals frequently call conservatives racist and said “preventing innocent people from working and conducting their business isn’t cordial in my book.”
Protest organizers were angered by Wilbur’s comment.
“We’re discouraged and appalled that the GOP’s response to a powerful action geared towards raising awareness about a substantive issue resorted to sexist name-calling and degradation,” said Rachael DeCruz, communications director for Washington CAN!, which helped organized the protest.
October 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene rolled out a new immigration bill Wednesday, attempting to restart a move toward comprehensive reform that has stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, largely mirrors a measure passed by the Senate earlier this year. It would, among other things, allow citizenship for people living in the United States illegally 13 years after they apply and would admit more highly-skilled immigrants.
The annual cap on employment-based visas would remain at 140,000. But that ceiling would not apply to foreigners with master’s degree or higher in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields from American universities or people with “extraordinary ability,” among others.
In effect, that means STEM graduates with advanced degrees with American job offers would get green cards for permanent residency.
Significantly, the bill strips out a provision inserted in the Senate version by Republicans, called the Corker-Hoeven amendment, that imposes tough border-security conditions that must be met before any green cards can be issued.
DelBene, D-Medina, co-sponsored the bill with four Democratic lawmakers: Reps. Judy Chu of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Steven Horsford of Nevada and Joe Garcia of Florida, the lead sponsor. DelBene, Chu and Garcia serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration issues.
The chairman of that committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has not put any immigration bills on the House floor. He has favored a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. None of the bills passed by the House Judiciary Committee include a pathway for citizenship for undocumented residents.
Look for full story in Thursday’s paper from my colleague, Lornet Turnbull.
August 8, 2013 at 3:48 PM
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.
March 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM
“Regardless of the past actions that led to undocumented students arriving in our state, we have the opportunity to affect their future and ours. Our state has the ability to change the outcome of their stories and give them the tools they need.”
That statement, urging support for legislation in Olympia to allow undocumented immigrant students access to state financial aid, could easily have been lifted from the brochure of some immigrant advocacy group.
Instead it was included in a recent op-ed piece in the Yakima Herald by two Republican lawmakers from Eastern Washington – Reps. Bruce Chandler and Charles Ross.
True, Republican support for immigration isn’t new or even all that surprising, particularly in this state and in light of the results of the November elections. But the evolution of House Bill 1817 is still worthy of note.
A year ago, the same bill didn’t get a single hearing.
Last month, more than 100 people who signed up to testify on it in two House committees and not a single voice was raised in opposition.
A total of eight Republicans – many, though not all, from the state’s immigrant-dependent farming areas – voted in favor of the bill. Chandler and Ross are included among the bill’s 32 sponsors.
And there is other evidence of Republican support on immigration.
On Tuesday, more than 40 groups announced formation of a compact to push for immigration policy changes in Congress.
Included among supporters are former Republican Congressman Sid Morrison, Dale Foreman, a former state lawmaker, former chairman of the state Republican Party and one-time Republican candidate for governor. Former state Republican Party chairman Chris Vance is one of the group’s spokespeople.
Of course, House Bill 1718 is far from a fait accompli.
While supporters say they feel confident it could survive the upcoming floor vote in the House, the Senate, controlled by a Republican-led caucus, could be another story entirely.
August 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM
U.S. Reps. Adam Smith and Jim McDermott joined eight other members of Congress in signing a letter calling for an independent investigation into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s authority to stop people and vehicles within 100 miles of the northern border.
The letter instructs the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), to look into practices by Border Patrol agents, which they say target individuals on the basis of race or religion for extra scrutiny during border crossings and wrongful stops. It also claims that agents stop, interrogate and arrest legal U.S. residents many miles from the border.
The Border Patrol’s growing presence along the northern border has been a source of ongoing complaints by immigrant advocates, particularly on behalf of people who are in this country unlawfully.
The lawmakers say the the agents also conduct operations outside places frequented by children and families, including churches, schools and human services facilities.
“We are concerned that the CBP’s activities may potentially undermine immigrant communities’ trust in law enforcement, violate people’s civil rights and adversely impact public safety,” the letter says. “We are also concerned that the diversion of resources away from the border comes at the expense of U.S. national security.”
The lawmakers want the GAO to develope statistics on apprehensions at or within 100 miles of the border, to include information on race, ethnicity, length of time in the U.S. and the results of the apprehension and determine if there are statistically significant racial or ethnic disparities in the rate of apprehensions by CBP.
August 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM
Note: This post has been updated to include the position of Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob McKenna is drawing another distinction with his national party — this time on immigration.
With Republicans preparing for next week’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., the platform committee decided Thursday to adopt a plank calling for the removal of federal funding from universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
Washington state is one of 10 states whose public colleges and universities do just that, allowing illegal immigrants to pay the lower rates if they can prove they went to high school here. In 2010-11, 557 undocumented students submitted affidavits to receive in-state tuition, 85 percent of them to attend community and technical colleges.
Asked about the McKenna campaign’s position on the issue, spokesman Charles McCray pointed to an Associated Press article published in May. The article describes McKenna as supportive of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants as a way to increase young people going to college.
Earlier this week, McKenna broke from the national platform committee by saying he supports “a woman’s right to choose under the laws in this state.” The committee had decided to oppose abortion in all cases.
On the immigration issue, McKenna was joined by at least two other state Republicans: U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner and Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Baumgartner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, said he viewed it as a state’s rights issue.
“I think we should make our own higher ed policy here in the state of Washington,” he said. “Federal funds for things like research and important scientific research shouldn’t be tied to state’s issues.”
A spokesman for Driscoll said the 6th district candidate “would not vote to cut off federal funds to universities over this issue.”
Republican John Koster, running for Congress in the 1st district, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
And a spokesman for the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, said the campaign would have to study the language of the platform plank.
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