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New Washington law allows illegal foreign nationals to obtain commercial licenses

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(The Center Square) – A new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee allows illegal foreign nationals to obtain professional and commercial licenses to work a variety of jobs if they otherwise qualify or meet requirements.

Under existing state law, a commercial vehicle license is needed from the state Department of Licensing to legally work certain careers, whereas other professions are regulated by a board of commission that determine the qualifications.

Under HB 1889 sponsored by Rep. Amy Walen, D-Kirkland, these individuals will now be able to obtain those certificates or licenses to work jobs that include:

NursesTeachersSex offender treatment providersArchitectsPharmacistsDentists and dental hygienistsHome care providers

Instead of providing proof of citizenship via a Social Security number, an illegal foreign national would only have to provide an individual taxpayer identification number. Neither an SNN or ITIN could be disclosed by the state agency for any reason except tax or licensing purposes, or to enforce child support payments. The bill does not apply to licenses connected to interstate compacts.

At the bill’s March 13 signing, Inslee said illegal immigrants who apply for a certificate or license must “still meet rigorous professional standards and pass necessary qualification exams.” He added that the law will “open doors for careers in teaching, accounting, and many other professions for those who are ready to join the Washington workforce.”

The bill received no opposition during the public hearings and passed overwhelmingly in both chambers. The House voted 66-31 in the House and 41-8 in the Senate.

Speaking in favor of the bill on the House floor, Walen said that “in my district…we have a lot of people that come from around the world to participate in the tech economy. Many of their family members come to the United States, and they maybe do not have immigration of citizenship status but their spouse does. Everyone should be able to participate in our economy. This policy simply asks that immigration status be removed from those requirements.”

Opposed was Rep. Eric Robertson, R-Sumner, who said that “I’m challenged by this one…I’m concerned with the verbiage in the bill and a possible impact. The concern is that the state of Washington, yes, we have the jurisdiction over the long list of licenses that are outlined in this legislation. But the thing that we don’t have jurisdiction over is immigration and lawful right to work in this state.”

He warned that the bill could be giving people “false hopes” if they pursue an education to get into a certain field that they’ll get a job, only to be told by potential employees they cannot legally hire them.

The bill takes effect on July 1.

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