House OKs college aid for immigrants with deferral

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Washington House of Representatives approved yesterday a measure giving young illegal immigrants eligibility to state college financial aid.

The House approved the so-called "Washington Dream Act" on a bipartisan 77-20 vote. They amended the bill on the floor to open college aid to all young illegal immigrants.

The bill's previous version made only young immigrants who had qualified for the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program eligible for the State Needs Grant. That federal program provides young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children a legal way to live in the country on renewable two-year stays, if they meet certain age and non-criminal history criteria.

Opponents say the bill promises financial aid while the state struggles to give help to current students.

Supporters say the measure gives a better future to immigrants who came here without a choice.