By Jerry Cornfield
Washington is expected to move a step closer today to providing undocumented immigrant students with financial aid for college from state taxpayers.
The state House intends to approve Senate Bill 6523 expanding the eligibility rules for the State Need Grant program to include students brought to this country illegally as children who are now enrolled in or bound for college.
The bill known as the Real Hope Act passed the Senate 35-10 on Jan. 31. It is nearly identical to the Dream Act approved by the House 71-23 on the first day of session. The only difference other than the name is the Senate bill authorizes an additional $5 million for the financial aid program
“This is a milestone in our state’s history,” said Ricardo Sánchez, founder of Sea Mar Community Health Centers’ Latino/a Educational Achievement Project in a press release issued this morning.
“SB 6523 gives real hope for an education to thousands of hard-working students with unlimited potential,” his statement continued. “Too often, their narrative to themselves has been, ‘College is for the rich kids, and it’s out of bounds for me because I’m an illegal alien.’ The Real Hope Act changes this narrative to one that says, ‘If I work hard, I can get an education and be anything I want to be’.”
House members are not expected to amend the legislation which means the next stop for the legislation will be the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee for his expected signing.
Once signed, Washington would join California, Texas and New Mexico as the only states to spend tax dollars on the college education of immigrants who are not citizens.
The House is expected to act after 5 p.m.