Washington has become the fifth state in the US to offer college financial assistance to undocumented students who were brought into the country illegally when they were children. Wednesday saw Governor Jay Inslee sign legislation that means they are now eligible to receive student grants.
Inslee described the bill as being a major win for “thousands of bright, talented and very hard working students across the state of Washington.” Inslee also added that Wednesday was one of the best days he had experienced in his time as Governor of Washington. The state follows in the footsteps of California, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas, which have passed similar measures. The passage is a victory for advocates of immigrant rights and also represents a change within the state’s Republican Party, which blocked a similar attempt at a measure in 2013.
The new law will come into effect from June and is expected to cover as many as 1,200 new enrollees, corresponding with estimates from lawmakers as to the upper limits of students that will be eligible for assistance under the law. Students who are in the United States illegally are, however, still faced with an uncertain future following graduation.
Washington State University political science professor David Nice says that Republicans are changing their stance on helping some undocumented immigrants, particularly those brought to the country as children, because of changing demographics. “Republicans are influenced by the continued growth of the Hispanic population, particularly in Republican areas of the state,” he believes.