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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Washington Attorney General Wades Into Immigration Lawsuit

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Flickr Photo/Joe Gratz (CC BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bkUna
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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson formally weighed in Monday on a federal lawsuit related to immigration. The suit challenges President Obama’s plan to offer legal protections to millions of undocumented immigrants. 

TRANSCRIPT

This lawsuit could affect nearly half of Washington’s undocumented population, or about a hundred thousand people. That’s how many residents here without legal status could benefit from Obama’s policy changes.

The president’s plan offers certain immigrants protection from deportation and a work visa. To be eligible you have to be the parent of a U.S. citizen or someone who was brought here as a child.

At least 24 states want to block the president’s action and have signed on to the federal lawsuit. They question whether it’s constitutional and claim the policy changes would cause financial harm.

Ferguson said the opposite is true, as he laid out in a legal brief to the court.

Ferguson: “The goal is, number one, to set the record straight before the court that the President’s actions will actually assist states around the country, including Washington state.”

Ferguson said the new policies are expected to increase Washington’s tax revenues by about $57 million  over the next five years. That estimate is from the Center for American Progress, a D.C.-based think tank.  The group says tax gains would grow as more immigrants work legally and file taxes on higher wages.

Eleven other states and Washington, D.C. also signed on to Ferguson’s brief.

The federal programs are set to open up to applicants this spring. But a judge in Texas could decide to halt the rollout while this lawsuit is pending. A hearing is set for Thursday.

Year started with KUOW: 2006