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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: illegal immigrant

Hot-button issue: state grants for college students who are illegal immigrants…

In tomorrow’s paper:

OLYMPIA _ Emotions ran high Wednesday, as state lawmakers discussed allowing illegal immigrant students – many of them brought to this country as young children – to qualify for millions of dollars in state college grants.

“As I look into their eyes and their hope for the future, I say let’s not draw a line around them,” said Rep. Dave Quall, D-Mount Vernon, who’s proposed House Bill 1706.

The proposal faces heated objections, however, from citizens unhappy about illegal immigration.
“Please turn off the bird feeder,” said Yakima valley resident Robert West. “The pie is only so big…I wonder what you’re going to tell those students who are U.S. students: `I’m sorry, but we gave your money to others who are here illegally.’”

One after another Wednesday, high school and college students, some without immigration papers, urged lawmakers to expand eligibility for state “need grants.” The grants are available to state residents whose families live on 70 percent or less of median income. Last year, some 72,000 students qualified for $182 million in help.

“We’re here and we’re ready to do something for this country. We love this country,” said Luis Ortega, a university student who said he’s maintaining a 3.5 grade point average.

“We are not asking for a free pass,” he said. “I believe in hard work. All I’m asking for is the opportunity to share the American dream.”

Over and over, the students described watching their parents toiling to make things better for their families. College is the ticket to a better future, they said.

“These are the doctors, the engineers, the teachers,” one woman told lawmakers, indicating rows

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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