Representatives rally in support of Dream Act


Photo by Sam Sargeant

Students and administration rally in front of the PUB for the Dream Act in Washington State

By Wilson Criscione, News Writer

On Jan. 9, students and state Reps. Zack Hudgins and Marcus Riccelli braved the cold weather and gathered in front of the PUB to advocate the passing of the Dream Act in Washington state, which would extend state-based financial aid to undocumented students.

Currently, students who immigrated to America, grew up in the state and graduated from Washington high schools are denied federal and state-based financial aid.

“We are pricing our students out of affordable and accessible education,” Riccelli said.

House Bill 1079, which was passed in 2003, allows undocumented students to take advantage of in-state tuition rates, but a decade later many of these students still cannot pursue a higher education due to the lack of financial aid.

Students held signs on the PUB steps saying “Our Dreams Can’t Wait,” and many signed a petition urging for the enactment of the Dream Act.

“This is a matter of human rights,” said EWU professor Martin Meraz-Garcia.

Meraz-Garcia was the first to speak at the rally. EWU President Rodolfo Arévalo also spoke in support of the bill, along with current and former EWU students.

EWU student and ASEWU vice president Francisco Navarro told the story of his journey to the university knowing he would not receive financial aid. Like many undocumented students, he relied on scholarships to afford college.

“There are many of us around,” Navarro said.

Hudgins, from the 11th legislative district, said he has heard stories like these from students all across the state.

“The one thing they have no control over is the one thing holding them back,” Hudgins said.

Hudgins sponsored the bill, and it was approved by the state house in March of 2013 with a vote of 77-20, but the legislation died in the state senate.

With the state legislature convening on Jan. 13, Hudgins and Riccelli expect the bill to be picked up quickly. This time, they hope it will make it to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk.

Opponents of the bill worry that giving state money to undocumented students will encourage more illegal immigration, and could possibly take tuition assistance away from American students, according to

Riccelli and Hudgins are both confident the bill will pass if it is brought up in the Senate, and they urged students to join the effort.

They told students to use social media to spread the word and to send letters to senators and editors of local newspapers, voicing their opinion.

According to, Washington would join California, Texas, Illinois and New Mexico in extending state-based financial aid to undocumented citizens.

“Every student in Washington state deserves a shot at the American dream,” said Riccelli.