Washington Immigration Law Enforcement Initiative (2008)

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The Immigration Law Enforcement Initiative, or Measure 409, would require state and local agencies to cooperate in enforcing federal immigration laws and would require verifying immigration status of persons seeking employment, receiving driver’s licenses, and receiving some public benefits.

This measure is a citizen-initiated state statute.

The official ballot measure summary reads:

This measure would require state and local government agencies to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws. Employers would be required to verify immigration status of employees, subject to penalty. It would require verification of immigration status of applicants for some state, local and federal public benefits. Nonprofit organizations would be prohibited from offering employment services without proof of immigration status. Issuance of driver’s licenses would be prohibited without proof of immigration status.


The sponsor of this measure is Albert Pong of University Place, Washington. The effort is being led by a group called Respect Washington. Craig Keller of Seattle, a board member for Respect Washington, unveiled the effort at a meeting of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group which promotes stricter enforcement of immigration laws and border security.[1]

Initiative backers say they're hoping to develop a statewide network to gather the signatures required to make it on the ballot this time. Similar efforts failed in 2006 and 2007.[1]


Critics of legislation such as this initiative say it reduces services available to children and increases health care costs in general, although supporters say anyone under 14 years old would not be affected.

"Do the promoters of this initiative have any idea what this will do to Washington state’s economy?" asked Margarita Esquivel, co-chairwoman of the Chicano-Latino Student Alliance. "What these anti-immigration individuals are trying to do with this is to cover up the fact that there is currently no practical solution for this issue."[2]

Esquivel said the initiative would force agricultural employers to use E-Verify to check the legitimacy of workers' citizenship, which would cause a drastic decrease in employment.[2]


Petitions containing at least 224,880 valid signatures must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than ten days prior to the 2009 regular legislative session convening.

See also

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