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GOP wants illegal workers to leave - State convention criticizes policies on immigration - votes to repeal GMA

GOP discussions

•Sex predators should get tougher sentences.

•Drilling for oil should be allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

•Dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers should remain.

•The state's Growth Management Act should be repealed.

Related stories

Washington government and politics

Jim Camden
Staff writer - Spokesman Review

May 28, 2006

YAKIMA – Immigrants who are in the United States illegally should go back to their home countries before they can be part of any "guest worker" program, Washington state Republicans said Saturday.

Illegal immigrants should have no special rights, and any babies they have while in the United States should not be citizens, the delegates also said.

The state convention took strong stands against current immigration policies, even the guest worker program for existing illegal immigrants being proposed by President Bush.

"If someone breaks into your home, they're not a guest," said one delegate. "If they break into your country, they're not a guest."

On other issues, the gathering of about 750 Republicans from around the state called for lower taxes, a strong military and tougher sentences for sexual predators, ranging from 25 years for some sex crimes to life in prison for others. They adopted a platform, or statement of principles, that supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and opposes removing dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The delegates resoundingly called for the repeal of the state's Growth Management Act, rejecting an original platform proposal that the law that governs many aspects of development be reformed.

Terrorists should be considered enemy combatants and appropriately "dealt with" – instead of prosecuted, as the platform originally suggested – by tribunals, the delegates decided. Prosecution suggested they had constitutional rights as criminal defendants, some argued.

When one suggested that "dealt with" was vague, Convention Chairman Kirby Wilbur quipped: "John Wayne wouldn't think it was too vague."

Some of the most serious discussion, however, centered around immigration policies in a platform that includes the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty urging "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

But too many come to the United States illegally, some delegates argued.

"There are so many illegal aliens coming here, trying to have babies," said a delegate from Spokane County.

If an illegal immigrant has a baby while in the United States unlawfully, that baby should not automatically become a citizen, a majority of delegates said. They rejected arguments from other delegates that that's exactly what the U.S. Constitution says.

A few delegates also argued that tougher stances on immigration could hurt their candidates' chances in recruiting Hispanic voters, or weren't realistic.

"It's not practical to send back 12 million or 20 million people to fill out an application and come back," said an opponent of the plank calling for illegal immigrants to go home.

"We send no one back," replied a supporter of the proposal. "We let 'em take themselves back."

Before debating platform issues, delegates heard from an array of candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, many of whom urged them to observe the watchwords of the convention, "One team, one mission."

Senate candidate Mike McGavick said they should concentrate on their common beliefs that everyone should have a chance to succeed, families are the building block of the American experience, liberty is a birthright and less government is better.

To a group still smarting from the narrow loss of Republican Dino Rossi in the contested 2004 gubernatorial race, Attorney General Rob McKenna promised to fight recent challenges to the state's new, tougher voter registration laws. He'd also fight rulings that say felons should have their voting rights restored even if they have not yet met all the financial requirements of their sentences, such as restitution to victims.

"I'm going to personally argue that case at the (state) Supreme Court next month," McKenna said, and he received a standing ovation when he promised to take any challenges to tougher voting requirements to the U.S. Supreme Court.



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