Opinion editorial by Reps. Bruce Chandler and Zack Hudgins: Pass the Dream Act to ensure all students have same opportunities

Special to the News Tribune, published March 28


Parents move for many reasons: because of the military, professional career or family. By default, their children move with them. Children don't get much of a say where they live, because it is their parents' responsibility to protect and provide for them.

When undocumented immigrants come to our country, their children are not responsible. However, when their children are brought to America at a young age, speak English, and grow up with the same classmates throughout their school careers, they call the United States their home. They don't know anything different — until they are about to graduate from high school.

In 2003, the Legislature adopted a measure to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for attending a Washington state college. That was only part of the answer, because skyrocketing tuition has put the dream of college out of reach for many students.

To make that dream possible again, we are coming together behind House Bill 1817, the Dream Act,

to allow undocumented students to be eligible for the state need grant, just like any other Washington high school graduates. It does not give an advantage to anyone, and maintains a high bar for receiving the state need grant. Undocumented students must work just as hard as other students to receive the funding.

Students testified before a committee hearing in Olympia that it takes up to 10 years to become a citizen. They can't even apply for citizenship until they turn 18. So they are stuck between high school and the rest of their lives. By providing undocumented students equal access to college, we provide them with the opportunity to succeed in life and to fully participate in our communities.

These immigrant children are not going anywhere else. They'll continue to be part of our communities and neighborhoods.

This is about all immigrants – Latinos, Canadians, Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, Korean – who've sacrificed and suffered to make the trip to America and worked hard to learn English and graduate with the highest grades. It's not easy to get into our state's best universities. We shouldn't make paying for tuition impossible for any kids.

We believe House Bill 1817 is the right direction for our districts and for Washington state.

The 11th District (represented by Rep. Hudgins) is one of the state's most diverse, comprised of Asian, Hispanic, African American, and multi-racial families. This adds to the fabric of our communities and creates a wealth of diversity in ideas, foods, languages, traditions and more.

The 15th District (represented by Rep. Chandler) is a minority-majority district, where 55 percent of our community is Hispanic. Our communities are tight-knit. Children of different backgrounds play together. Spanish and English-speaking people work side-by-side. Neighbors keep an eye out for each other.

All parents hope that their children's lives will be better than theirs. The benefits to allowing all students access to higher education are enduring for them and our society. Let's give all students the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Please join us in supporting the Dream Act – House Bill 1817.

Rep. Zack Hudgins is a Democrat from Tukwila, representing the 11th District in King County. Rep. Bruce Chandler is a Republican from Granger, representing the 15th District in Yakima County.


Washington State House Republican Communications