12-10-2016  12:53 am      •     

YAKIMA—The Washington state Repub-lican Party has adopted a platform that would revoke the constitutional provision granting automatic citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.

Diane Tebelius, state GOP chair, said she believes the provision reflects the sentiment of Washington voters.
"I think voters realize immigration is a problem and we are trying to grapple with solutions to the illegal-immigration problem," she said.

The platform resolution was adopted Saturday with little debate and few dissenting votes. Delegates supporting it said their concerns included the cost to public hospitals and the expense of welfare for the children of indigent or deported illegal immigrants.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, keynote speaker at the convention Saturday, disagreed with the action, citing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which confers citizenship on everyone born in the United States.

"I believe the Constitution provides otherwise," he said. "I believe that if you are born here, you should be a citizen."

In a recent statewide telephone poll of voters in the state by Elway Research of Seattle, about two-thirds favored allowing illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. a number of years to apply for legal status leading to citizenship if they meet conditions, such as paying a fine and back taxes.

Thirteen percent said illegal immigrants should be considered felons and denied employment.

State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz called the GOP resolution "a punitive and inhumane response to the immigration issue America is confronting" and said it would prove to be an "embarrassment" to Republican candidates.

"Abraham Lincoln is turning over in his grave," Pelz said.

Another platform provision would require that any illegal immigrants seeking guest worker status leave the country before being allowed to apply for legal entry. Opponents to that resolution included Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and convention delegates favoring agricultural interests.

Delegates voted overwhelmingly to support Mike McGavick of Seattle over Brad Klippert of Kennewick for the party's nomination to challenge Sen. Maria Cant-well, D-Wash.

— The Associated Press

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