Students without citizenship status now have a better chance of reaching their academic goals thanks to a new bill known as the “DREAM Act.”

On Wednesday, February 26, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 6523 into law, which will allow students to apply for state financial aid, regardless of their documentation status.

For undocumented immigrants, it is a huge step for surviving the adversity they face in getting an education and applying for a job. The bill will essentially legalize their status.

Washington becomes the fourth state to pass the legislation—joining California, New Mexico, and Texas—in extending state need-grants to undocumented students who have lived in the state for at least three years and received a high school diploma or equivalent in the state as well. These are the requirements students must meet before they can receive any financial aid.

It was a nearly six-year effort by the Democratic Party to pass a version of the DREAM Act, closing with a 75-22 bipartisan vote in the House. However, those who lost the vote still have something to say about it.

Critics of the bill say that it creates a kind of unconstitutional competition between documented and undocumented students. Critics also say that it will hurt the middle class and cost American taxpayers to pay billions a year.

However, many Washingtonians, including the people at our very own Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), see the bill as a better version of the “Real Hope Act,” which passed out of the House last month.

In a recent post to social media, the ACRS called the DREAM Act an act of hope and opportunity: “Children in thousands of immigrant families (including ACRS clients) now have access to more affordable higher education, and we believe our state can only benefit from their success.”

The Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs also took to social media to celebrate the bill that gives all Washington state students a chance to qualify for financial aid.

The bill is to be effective on June 12, 2014.

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