Washougal tackles Arizona law issues again

Standing-room only crowd includes many from Vancouver

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Many of the individuals at last night’s Washougal City Council meeting showed up primarily to indicate how they feel regarding the council’s recent decision to support the Arizona immigration law.

On July 6, councilors voted 5 to 2 in favor of a resolution in support of enforcing federal immigration laws on the state level. The resolution encourages state representatives of the 15th and 18th legislative districts to sponsor legislation in the next session similar to the immigration law recently adopted in Arizona.

That law authorizes state and local law enforcement officers — if they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is an illegal alien — to determine the person’s immigration status.

Allen Rogers, of Vancouver, thanked the council for “supporting the rule of law.” Rogers is the chairman of the Washington Citizens for Responsible Government.

Gary Wiram, of Vancouver, said he had German ancestors who arrived on Ellis Island.

“Thank you for the vote to protect the sovereignty of our nation,” he said.

Wiram is hoping the Vancouver City Council will support a similar resolution.

Ed Jara, of Vancouver, said he was frustrated and discontented with the Washougal council’s vote and mentioned it could “negatively impact the documented immigrant community.”

Jara thanked Council members Paul Greenlee and Molly Coston for voting against the immigration resolution.

Gunter Bahl, of Washougal, described himself as an immigrant who moved to the Camas-Washougal area 58 years ago. He mentioned it was a five-year process for his family to go through a background check and receive physicals and shots, before being allowed to move to America.

Bahl and his family were sponsored by the Camas-Washougal Ministerial Association when they arrived in this area, and his father was hired at the paper mill in Camas.

Bahl said there are “illegals separated [from family members] by an ocean, and they are trying to meet the requirements” for U.S. citizenship.

“Others are here without paperwork,” he said. “Send ’em back.”

Coston said she has been elected three times to work on city business.

“This is outside the scope of city business,” she said. “It’s a huge issue, worthy of discussion and rigorous debate, but this is not the venue.”

Councilman Jon Russell said his support of the resolution is not partisan. He referred to previous years when council members were encouraged to support global warming and domestic partnership issues. Russell voted against those issues.

Russell said illegal aliens are affecting education and public safety costs.

“We are a player in a bigger picture,” he said. “These are common sense issues.”

Mayor Sean Guard said copies of the council’s resolution have been sent to State Reps. David Taylor, Ed Orcutt, and Jaime Herrera, as well as State Sens. Jim Honeyford and Joe Zarelli, and U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.