In the Senate, Dream Act remains the stuff of dreams

Guest Opinion: Despite his claims of bipartisanship, Sen. Rodney Tom is blocking a bill with wide bipartisan support.
Eric Balderas just finished his freshman year at Harvard, where he is majoring in molecular and cellular biology. He was valedictorian and student council president at his high school. His mother brought him to the U.S. when he was 4.

Eric Balderas just finished his freshman year at Harvard, where he is majoring in molecular and cellular biology. He was valedictorian and student council president at his high school. His mother brought him to the U.S. when he was 4. Durbin.senate.gov

All Washingtonians might be created equally, but they are not treated equally.

Many immigrant students were brought here as children by parents who entered the country illegally. It wasn’t the children’s doing, but it is nevertheless their reality. They aren’t here because they want to take from us, but because they want to contribute. The American flag is the flag to which they pledge allegiance.

They’ve grown up here, they’ve paid taxes here and the hard work of many of their families has made our state’s agricultural system one of the strongest in the world. Their aspiration is to become productive members of our communities and reach for the American dream along with everyone else. But there’s a problem.

While many of these students work hard, excel in school and strive to go on to college, they face a harsh reality. Like many Washingtonians, they find the rising cost of higher education increasingly beyond their means. But unlike other Washingtonians, they are ineligible for State Need Grants. These young dreamers are being penalized simply because their parents were undocumented immigrants.

The Washington Dream Act would change that. This legislation would make all deserving students eligible for State Need Grants and able to pursue the opportunity to realize their full potential in education and in life.

The Dream Act has strong support in both chambers of the Legislature. The House passed it with a strong bipartisan majority of 77-20, including votes from 22 Republicans. The bill has majority support in the Senate as well, where a solid bipartisan majority of senators say they will vote for it. There’s just one catch: Despite its support on both sides of the aisle, the Dream Act has been blocked in the Senate by the Republican majority.

It’s not unusual for a caucus to kill a bill. What’s unusual in this case is that the bill has strong bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, including the endorsement of the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Rodney Tom. What’s more, there are 10 members of the 25-member Senate majority caucus whose seatmates in the House voted for the bill.

This bill is the kind of bipartisanship that Sen. Tom claimed his majority caucus would champion. But rather than move a popular bipartisan bill forward, his caucus has twice blocked our efforts to bring it to the floor for a vote — with his complicity.

Meanwhile, in a series of accusations that don’t even pass the chuckle test, Sen. Tom has said Democrats are to blame for the bill’s failure to move forward. It’s astounding to think that the most powerful member of the Senate blames the failure to pass a bill he claims to support not on the committee chair whom he appointed, and who has refused to put the bill to a vote, but on Democrats who support the bill and would vote for it.

Sen. Tom’s primary responsibility is to the people of Washington, not the members of his caucus or their political agendas. And the people — in this case, students across our state — need more from Sen. Tom than rhetoric and excuses.

When he accepted the position of majority leader, Sen. Tom assumed the top leadership role in the Senate. After an entire legislative session and with a special session to come, we’re still waiting for him to shoulder the responsibility that goes with it.

Sen. Ed Murray is the Senate Democratic Leader and the primary sponsor of The Washington Dream Act. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Higher Education Committee and the lead co-sponsor of the bill.

Senator Jeanne Kohl Wells represents the 36th District and serves as the Ranking Member on the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Senator Ed Murray represents the 43rd District and is the Senate Democratic Leader.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 7:46 a.m. Inappropriate

Is anyone suprised that the pro-illegal alien Democrats in the Senate are throwing a fit that they didn't get even more benefits for illegal aliens this session?

When will Democrats quit prioritizing support for illegal aliens and illegal behavior over legal citizens and residents? Why do they continue to fund illegal aliens on the backs of the taxpayers of Washington State? There are finding from the State Audior about MILLIONS of dollars a year flowing to illegal aliens for non-emergency medical treatments, what are the Senators doing about it? What about the 50,000 school aged illegal aliens and children of illegal aliens that are directly impacting the funding issues that McCleary is addressing?

Time for the Democrats that have run this State for nearly three decades that they need to prioritize what is best for those who have followed the rules and are paying the bills, not illegal aliens.

Cameron

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 11:13 a.m. Inappropriate

Yes, what about the "dreams" of millions of middle class students who find themselves in permadebt for most of their lives?

The illegal issue aside, there has to be more equitable distribution of state funds for education, medical, and dental to all poor and middle class children who need the help.

How much does the state contribute to families with multiple children for food, medical, dental, and education through college? There has to be an upper limit cap of a million or two million dollars. At some point, people who have children must incur the financial responsibility for them. Asking for several million dollars of benefits from the taxpayers is ridiculous. Instead of showing a picture of a clean cut kid on a college campus, show a picture of a family of eight holding a check from the state of WA with how much they will collect over a lifetime. That would certainly elicit a different emotional response from most people.

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 8:17 a.m. Inappropriate

Vote yes for the Dream Act and I will vote no on the school levy.

http://www.fairus.org/publications/the-fiscal-burden-of-illegal-aliens-on-washingtonians

BlueLight

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 10:03 a.m. Inappropriate

Strong op-ed, correctly supporting the Dream Act and calling out Sen. Tom for his lack of leadership. He says he support something, but does nothing to fight for it? Not very encouraging for the rest of what he believes in. Dream Act is a bipartisan bill with bipartisan - and popular - support. What is holding back the "Majority Coalition Caucus" that pretends to be bipartisan from simply taking an up or down vote?

Posted Tue, Apr 30, 6:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Being a middle class Washingtonian, I am footing the majority of my sons college education through loans. We aren't rich enough to just pay for it nor poor enough to be paid to go to college. If the illegals want to go to college and the state feels obligated to pay for them to do so, here is my solution - make them go through the legalization process as soon as they turn 18, and require them to give back to the state for a set number of years while and upon receiving their education. It shouldn't be free for them, which is usually the normal initial and final response. Start requiring something from EVERYONE.

Posted Wed, May 1, 6:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Let's finally have a real accounting of how much the Education System in Washington State is spending on illegal aliens and the children of illegal aliens.

Now imagine the State not issuing drivers licenses to illegals, not issuing any kind of certificate or license to illegals. Mandating E-verify. With hold non-emergency benefits from illegals. The tens of thousands of illegal aliens and children of illegal aliens would leave of their own accord.

Cameron

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