MurrayDreamAct.jpg
Sen. Ed Murray introduces the DREAM Act.

UPDATE: The DREAM Act bill passed out of the Higher Education Committee today in a 14-4 vote.

*Original

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DREAM Act Gains Momentum in Olympia

MurrayDreamAct.jpg
Sen. Ed Murray introduces the DREAM Act.

UPDATE: The DREAM Act bill passed out of the Higher Education Committee today in a 14-4 vote.

*Original Post*

Today is a big day for dreamers, in particular for immigrant students who support House Bill 1817, or the DREAM Act.

The bill, which would extend state financial aid to Washington state immigrants students, will face a House Higher Education Committee vote today at noon, according to OneAmerica Policy Manager Emily Murphy.

Murphy is confident that the DREAM Act will pass out of committee, citing strong bipartisan support.

"Both parties have come together to say hard work should be rewarded with opportunity," says Murphy. "They've also realized the important economic gains of a well-educated work force that can live and work in Washington state legally."

Currently, Washington state is one of 12 states to give long-term undocumented immigrant students in-state tuition rates under certain requirements. Yet as university students are faced with high unemployment rates and rising tuition costs, immigrant students are additionally burdened as they are categorically denied all federal and state financial aid.

"The majority of young, hardworking students cannot afford higher education because they don't have need-based financial aid," says Murphy.

Murphy emphasizes the DREAM Act is geared toward students who qualify and receive deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Passed by President Obama in June 2012, the initiative temporarily suspends deportation of young immigrants who graduate from US schools and enables them to work and study in the United States.

Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act will be people already participating in the work force and, therefore, would maximize contributions to the state, says Murphy.

The DREAM Act is still in its early stages-- after passing in the House Higher Education Committee, it will likely go to the appropriations committee before being introduced on the House and Senate floor. It's a small step, but it's an important one in dictating immigration reform.

Only a few years ago discourse around immigration reform was vastly different, especially with Arizona's anti-immigration bill, SB1070, in 2010. Today, the DREAM Act's momentum speaks to the changing landscape of immigration legislation.

"The election results indicated that there are substantial demographic shifts underway in this country," says Murphy. "Additionally with comprehensive immigration reform coming down the pike, it's clear the American people are looking for a sensible solution."

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