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Undocumented immigrants in Washington state may no longer need to fear unexpected arrests thanks to the protection that legislation currently under consideration in Washington state promises to provide them.

House bill 2567, and its companion Senate bill 6522, would prohibit civil arrests without a court order or arrest warrant within one mile of a court facility.

“For me, as a refugee, it took me a while to overcome my fear for police,” said Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, the House bill’s primary sponsor. “It took me a while to overcome my fear for the … judicial system.”

“I overcame my fear and my mistrust because I believe … that everybody deserves to have access to justice,” Thai said.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, “over the past two years, there have been more than 200 documented civil arrests at courthouses in over 18 counties across the state.”

“The rise in immigration enforcement in Washington courthouses has a direct chilling effect on immigrant crime victims who would otherwise turn to the courts for protection,” said Alex Kory, a crime victims attorney with the Northwest Justice Project.

“When victims are scared to seek protection, crimes go unchecked,” Kory said.

At an earlier hearing, a man named Carlos shared his story about how he was arrested two years ago while renewing his license plates.

“A lot of folks are fearful of getting their families separated, like it happened to me,” Carlos said through a translator. “My family … are too afraid to go to court. They have to choose between addressing their court issues or being arrested by immigration.”

Opponents pushed back, citing the constraints the proposed law would put on judicial officers and law enforcement.

“We think that the definition of civil arrest does, in fact, impede our ability to enforce simple things like traffic laws,” said James McMahan, policy director for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

“The intent of this bill, as I understand it, is to make sure that people feel safe when they go to court,” said Rep. Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw, who spoke in opposition to the proposal at an earlier debate. “It seeks to do that by making a one-mile radius surround every courthouse in the state of Washington a place in which crime can flourish. And that doesn’t make sense to me.”

The bill would only apply to arrests made for the violation of civil law and “excludes arrest for alleged criminal law violations, or arrest for contempt of court,” according to the substitute Senate bill report.

HB 2567 was passed by the House Monday, Feb. 17 with 55 yeas and 43 nays. It was heard by the Senate Law and Justice Committee Tuesday, Feb. 25 and is scheduled for an executive session, which is when committee members vote to move it forward, on Thursday, Feb. 27.

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(3) comments

ILovetheConstitution

I would like to add that I'm not an immigration lawyer. My comments about immigration law should not be taken as advice.

ILovetheConstitution

The Social Security Administration estimates that undocumented workers pay $10-15 billion a year, in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

This is in addition to income, gasoline, sales, liquor, telecommunications and tobacco taxes. Parking and traffic citations and fees, bridge tolls, building permit fees...

Mr. Larimer, are you a recipient of Social Security and/or Medicare? These are pay-as-you-go systems. Taxes payed now are used for current benefits.

By speaking out in such a hostile manner towards hard-working, tax paying folks, who simply lack documents, you may be biting the hand that's feeding you.

Being in our country without documents is, at worst, a misdemeanor, and is nowhere near as serious as, say, a politician profiting from being in office.

Half of undocumented folks came to our country on a work or tourist visa, and overstayed, in which case "removal" (getting kicked out) is the customary penalty.

President Obama kicked out a record number of undocumented folks.

In my opinion, amnesty should be granted to undocumenteds who work and pay taxes, and who haven't broken the rules seriously.

Bob Larimer

I realize that it's largely due to Emerald City population centers and the Capitol area in Olympia, which attracts liberals like dead meat draws maggots, but voters in Washington state have really betrayed themselves and their families by routinely sending Democrats to the Legislature.

Draconian firearms and magazine bills that take freedoms from law abiding citizens and do nothing to stop criminals, creation of a busybody, citizen-monitoring 'Office of Firearms Violence,' measures to throw $Millions at homeless people who are and will continue living out their own bad choices, an invasive, manipulative 'comprehensive sex education' plan to advance gender-identity, LGBTQPedo-advocacy and 'self-stimulation,' for kindergardners on up in all public schools, bills to protect Illegal invaders from law enforcement and, now that the hard work and productivity of everyday citizens are swelling state revenue money piles during this Blue Collar Boom, plans are being laid to spend every last dime of this taxpayer money on more and bigger useless, wasteful, bureaucracy-building programs.

It is well past time for citizens to wake up and see the consequences of the Californification of our state, and stop falling for the slick, dramatic, emotional pleas of candidates and legislators and their 'solutions' that relentlessly lead to the same socialistic disasters we've seen to the South of us.

Democrats and liberal Republicans will continue to smile and press measures on us that only promise failure and servitude for citizens and our children.

Will we use the power of our votes to throw out corrosive leaders and policies, or trust these 'experts' as they take more freedoms away, tighten their grip on children in local school districts and drop more burdens on our shoulders?

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