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Bill Would Open Scholarships To Some Undocumented Students In Washington

Will James
DACA recipients and supporters march in Seattle on Aug. 15

The future of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, remains in doubt, but some Democratic lawmakers in Washington state want to ensure that undocumented people in college will be able to continue their education even if the program ends.

This is the third year that Democratic Rep. Drew Hansen has introduced this bill. He said there’s even more urgency now because the Trump administration set a deadline to end DACA. A federal judge granted a request from some states to let the program continue temporarily, but it still faces an uncertain future.

Hansen said his bill, HB 1488, would allow undocumented students who meet certain criteria to qualify for the state’s College Bound Scholarship program even if DACA ends.

“We can’t guard against everything that comes out of Washington, D.C., but at least in this particular instance, we can make sure we can protect some of our students from losing financial aid, so they can stay in college and get on with their lives,” he said.

The College Bound Scholarship program was created about a decade ago to help low-income students with tuition and some fees. Eligible students sign a pledge in 7th or 8th grade. The aim is to get middle schoolers to set a goal of pursuing higher education and to reassure their families that it will be financially possible.

Washington already allows undocumented immigrants who have met residency requirements to qualify for in-state tuition if they sign an affidavit stating that they’ll apply for permanent resident status as soon as they’re eligible to do so.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.