Republicans got riled up during a house floor debate Tuesday evening over Sen. Margarita Prentice's (D-11, Renton) legislation that would eliminate the state's registry for "immigration assistants" and prohibit individuals from using misleading designations that suggest they are an attorney. A number of Republicans from around the state rose to protest the Prentice legislation, arguing that the bill would put the cost of becoming a citizen out of reach for most immigrants.

Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-15, Granger) argued that "When you have limited means and you increase the cost and limit the access to legal residency and to the courts, you are denying justice." He added, "We can't afford to do that here." Republican representatives argued that keeping the cost low was crucial for many immigrants who have limited means and want to become US citizens.

"I want a country that has open doors to those who are traveling here and want to become honest and legitimate members of our communities," Rep. Charles Ross (R-14, Naches) told legislators. "It's what built this country and is going to bring this country into the next hundred years of success." Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-12, Wenatchee) reiterated Ross' and Chandler's arguments, stating that "this does the opposite of what we're trying to do in trying to encourage people to immigrate here legally. ... These are just people who want to be citizens."

However, Republicans' seeming sympathy for immigrants was not reflected in the Republican operating budget offered by Rep. Gary Alexander (R-20, Olympia) the following morning. That budget would completely eliminate funding for certain naturalization services the state currently funds, including the New Americans Program and the Naturalization Program. Those cuts would save $562,000 and $5.7 million, respectively. House ways and means chair Ross Hunter's (D-48, Medina) budget also makes cuts to those programs ($231,000 and $2 million, respectively), but would not eliminate either of these program entirely.

Both programs provide translation services—something  Republicans argued was a crucial service for immigrants trying to become US citizens.

You can view a comparison of the two budgets here.
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