At their weekly press conference, state GOP leaders distanced themselves from federal actions on immigration.
The state has been in the spotlight as Attorney General Bob Ferguson leads a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order. Ferguson says the order, as it is written, is unconstitutional.
Amid the lawsuit, the Trump administration has indicated it will draft a different version of the order, so it’s not yet clear how the court case could proceed, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
State Republican lawmakers addressed some questions around the travel ban and Trump’s promise to deport undocumented immigrants.
At the conference, Rep. Dan Kristiansen, Snohomish, didn’t explicitly condemn or support the ban. He said he wanted to focus on state issues.
“My constituents hired me to be a state legislator and to deal with the issues of, not only my district, but the issues that the state deals with,” he said. “I’ve got to keep my effort and my time focused in on what really affects us down here.”
When pressed on the possible deportation of undocumented immigrants, Kristiansen said deportations should be considered within the context of who is being deported and whether they have felonies. He went on to explain how he supported legal immigration and its role in the state’s agricultural economy.
“If we find that we’ve got a shortage of workers here then that’s something we’re definitely going to be concerned about,” he said. “I do know that most of the people that we’re dealing with here that are in our agriculture industry – that are helping us with our harvesters and many of them are my friends many are people that I’ve worked with for years that go back-and-forth – They do come here legally. They are vetted and they do a fantastic job of taking care of us in the agriculture industry”
At the conference, Sen. Randi Becker, Eatonville, asserted the state would keep supporting immigrants as per usual.
“We’ve also been very supportive of all these workers in the past. Why would we change?” she said.
Sen. Barbara Bailey, Oak Harbor, said that though the state had little control over what happens at a federal level, she was confident that state laws would protect state citizens.
“I think that what goes on at a federal level is going to happen regardless of what we’re doing here, and quite frankly, I think that our laws here are pretty solid and the things that we’ve been doing are reasonable and benefit all of the citizens of our state,” she said.