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Originally published Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM

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Editorial: Immigration reform must include a path to citizenship

The U.S. House of Representatives should vote on a comprehensive measure before year’s end. Washington’s GOP delegates must join the effort.

Seattle Times Editorial

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More than 67 percent of Eastern Washington residents support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, a new study has found. But you wouldn’t know it from the behavior of their congressional representatives.

Neither U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, nor U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Pasco — both Republicans who represent Washington east of the Cascades — support a comprehensive approach to fixing the nation’s broken immigration system.

Their caucus colleague, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, doesn’t either. In fact, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn is one of a handful of Republicans so far to join with Democrats to consider ways to legalize some of the 11 million people living in the country illegally.

A new statewide poll of 800 residents by KCTS (Channel 9), Latino Decisions and the Diversity Research Institute at the University of Washington finds 73 percent of adult respondents support a path to citizenship for immigrants who have jobs, pay back taxes and learn English.

The survey shows all regions of the state are supportive: 77 percent of Puget Sound and 68 percent of Western Washington respondents agree with creating a legal path forward.

That won’t be an easy walk for anyone. After a hard-fought battle, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration package last June that proposes a 13-year process for prospective citizens to seek legal status. That bill is languishing on House Speaker John Boehner’s desk. News reports indicate there are enough votes to pass the measure on the floor, but Boehner won’t budge because he doesn’t have a majority of his caucus members behind him. Many are needlessly consumed with border security.

Meanwhile, Washington’s agriculture sector needs workers. High-tech employers like Microsoft want more visas to fill a skills gap. Young immigrants brought here as children await the chance to prove their potential.

This week, House Republicans attempted to reach out to Latino voters by releasing a video honoring Hispanic Heritage Month. McMorris Rodgers and several other congressional members are seen extolling Latinos for their contributions to America’s defense, economy and culture.

Nice try, but they left out any mention of immigration reform, a top issue among this key voter bloc.

Washington’s Republican delegates must do their part to remind House leadership actions still speak louder than words.

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