One of the few controversial measures to pass the Washington state Legislature with bipartisan support this past session is now in effect statewide. The REAL Hope Act is a shining example of how states can take small steps to reform immigration policy — with or without congressional action.
A Monday press release sent to the media from the Washington Student Achievement Council included a catchy subject line: “Calling all dreamers” — application for state financial aid now available.
This is a special moment for bright students — known as dreamers — who are at risk of going into a life of hiding after graduating from Washington’s public schools.
The new law expands eligibility for the Washington State Need Grant to cover poor, undocumented high-school graduates who have lived in the state for at least three years. Information on how to apply for financial assistance can be found at the Washington Application for State Financial Aid’s website.
Credit goes to the Washington Legislature for doing something to help more (though not all) motivated students realize their full potential through higher education. But state lawmakers can’t provide those kids with a path to citizenship after they earn their degrees. Nor can they fully address the need for a lot more low- and high-skilled labor statewide.
Now is the time to remind Congress to step up and pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.
Efforts have stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives, where some members have indicated they are indifferent to the plight of employers looking for skilled labor and to the well-being of nearly 11 million people living (and working) in the U.S. illegally.
Washington’s congressional delegation is split along party lines, with Time magazine reporting that Democrats are attempting to gather enough signatures for a “discharge petition” (a Time story explains what this is) to force a vote on the floor for H.R. 15, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina. As of Tuesday, the petition remains far short of the 218 signatures needed. Not a single Republican member of the state’s delegation has signed on, though their districts would benefit from immigration reform.