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Hispanic woman challenges Miss Seafair immigration rules

Tania Santiago (in yellow) was crowned Miss Hispanic Seafair Saturday and will compete for the title of Miss Seafair. (Photo courtesy Hispanic Seafair)

Should a young woman without legal immigration status be allowed to compete for the title of Miss Seafair? The annual summer festival says yes, despite a policy requiring contestants be either U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Tania Santiago, 21, challenged the 63-year history after the Redmond woman took the title of Miss Hispanic Seafair over the weekend, the Seattle Times reports.

It’s a big deal, because the winner gets a college scholarship along with the chance to make over 100 appearances around the state.

“I think it’s wonderful. I think that Seafair did the right thing,” said KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

While some are likely to complain or criticize Santiago for being an ‘illegal immigrant’, Ross called that absurd.

“It’s really a medieval approach it’s like calling children bastards because their parents aren’t married.”

A Seafair spokeswoman says the immigration policy was put in place because Miss Seafair had to travel internationally in the past to represent the organization. But they haven’t done that for some time.

Santiago is a Mexican native who has lived in the U.S. since she was 4. Her parents hope to get legal status this year.

“She’s been schooled here in the area, she graduated from high school here, she’s attending the University of Washington. The only fault that I can find with her is that she wants to be a lawyer,” said guest host Ken Schram in praising the young woman.

“I think it’s good that Seafair is taking this stand.”

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