More Proof That Washington Is a Sanctuary for Illegal Immigrants

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In a cover story last month, we wrote about the way once illegal immigrants have become the economic backbone of rural Washington. What's more, Latino farmers and leaders in the Yakima Valley told us that a new wave of undocumented immigrants have been flocking to Washington in the last year or two as they flee the backlash against illegals in Arizona and elsewhere. Now, the Associated Press provides more evidence of the same.

In a piece published yesterday, AP reports that illegal immigrants are saying goodbye to Arizona and saying hello to Washington, New Mexico and Utah--three states that allow such immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. In all three states, there's been an uptick in the number of licenses issued this year to people born outside the U.S.

Predictably, some lament this trend. AP quotes state Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Roy), who last year sponsored a bill that would have required people to show proof of citizenship before getting a license.

Some of the anti-immigrant activists SW talked to in Yakima, who were already gnashing their teeth at what they said was the region's reputation as a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants, will no doubt feel vindicated.

But others in the valley were celebrating the appearance of the latest immigrants. For farmer and Mexican immigrant Sergio Marquez (pictured above), it means more hands to prune and pick the apples he grows on his nearly 200-acre orchard. Before Arizona sent its illegal immigrants looking for more welcoming states, Marquez, like other farmers in the state, had trouble finding enough workers.

Contrary to stereotype, though, we found that many illegal immigrants don't stay farm workers forever. Like Marquez, they go on to become farmers and business owners in their own right.

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