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Washington Legislature Passes State Dream Act, 75-22

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Last night, the Washington state legislature passed a financial aid bill for DREAMers when it approved the state senate’s version of the Real HOPE Act (also known as the Washington DREAM Act) in a bipartisan 75-22 vote.  The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee (D)’s desk, and he is expected to sign it.

As Gov. Inslee said in a press statement on Tuesday;

The DREAM Act represents a new future for many aspiring Washington students. While we’ve opened the doors of our colleges and universities to students from all walks of life, too many still face an insurmountable financial barrier.

Washington state DREAMers have been eligible to pay the in-state college tuition rate since 2003, but the new bill will help them afford college.  In order to be eligible, students must be recognized by President Obama’s deferred action for DREAMers (DACA) program — or indicate that they will apply — have lived in the state for at least three years, completed the full senior year of high school, and graduated with a diploma or GED equivalent from a Washington high school.  About $5 million will be appropriated for the 2015 fiscal year once the bill becomes law.

As Think Progress noted, 16 states allow undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate, but California, Texas, and New Mexico are currently the only states to also offer financial aid eligibility.

Yesterday’s victory wouldn’t have been possible without years of organizing from groups like We Are One America, whose victory statement yesterday used Washington state’s example to call Congress to action on federal immigration reform:

We hope that this will send a message to Congress that bipartisan agreement on immigration-related issues is possible. Ultimately, action on federal immigration reform will be necessary to ensure that these young Americans and their families can truly become full members of our economy and society.

After the bill passed yesterday, the scene at the Washington state house was an emotional one for legislators and advocates alike.  View some of the pictures and tweets here or below: