Lawmakers in the state of Washington wasted no time in moving forward on DREAM Act legislation this year.
On the first day of the legislative session, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would make Washington students who were brought to the U.S. before age 16 eligible for certain state tuition grants.
The State Need Grants are designed to offset college costs for low-income students.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, nearly 75,000 Washington students received this type of grant, according to legislative analysts; HB 1817 adds certain undocumented young people to the list of those eligible.
The legislation, said Moses Chege, who came from Kenya and has lived in the U.S. for 13 years, provides the “reassurance that I have the same opportunities as my peers” to pursue higher education.
It passed the House by a vote of 71 to 23. “Republicans and Democrats alike understand that this is really about investing in a generation of promising young Americans,” Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica, said in a press release.
The bill is under consideration in a state Senate committee.
OneAmerica, formerly Hate Free Zone, works with immigrant communities on a variety of issues. It is part of a coalition of education, business, faith, labor and nonprofit organizations working to pass the state DREAM Act.