Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Washington Legislature Sends 'Real Hope' Act To Governor

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Republican State Sen. Barbara Bailey celebrates with students following final passage of the “Real Hope Act.”";s:

A late vote in the Washington legislature has the children of immigrants cheering - literally.

The state House Tuesday night overwhelmingly gave final approval to a measure to allow high school graduates who came to this country illegally with their parents to apply for state financial aid.

After the vote, students in T-shirts that read "OneAmerica" cheered the sponsors of the legislation from within Washington's capitol rotunda.

"Thanks to all of you guys our dream really came true," 15-year-old Salma Silva said in tearful thanks.

Republican State Sen. Barbara Bailey, the prime sponsor of what she calls the "Real Hope Act," gently scolded the teen.

"You quit crying," she said."This is a happy day, not a sad day."

Democratic State Rep. Zack Hudgins responsed with a borrowed line from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson: "OK, now you all got to go be doctors and lawyers and such."

The measure will allow undocumented students to receive Washington Need Grants to attend college. But there’s no guarantee all qualified students will receive tuition help. Competition for the limited funds is fierce.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign into law the high profile legislation.

Washington would become the fourth state, including California, to offer taxpayer funded financial aid to undocumented students.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."