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THE Washington State Dream Act should be a legislative slam dunk.

Expanding state financial aid to smart, qualified students, regardless of their citizenship statuses, is a smart investment in the state’s future.

The state House of Representatives seized this opportunity early. On Monday, members tipped off the 2014 session with a strong, bipartisan vote to move House Bill 1817 into the Senate’s court.

State Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, the chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee could score a few points by giving the bill a hearing. Let the full Senate vote. Last year, she walked away from the chance to help bright students come out of the shadows.

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Washington lawmakers granted undocumented students access to in-state tuition in 2003. Allowing them to compete for financial assistance is a fair, sensible next step that ensures they have the means to pursue higher education.

These same students, many brought here as babies, came up through the state’s public school system. Their parents often take on low-wage jobs that are hard to fill — picking fruit, cleaning homes and working in restaurants — and they pay taxes.

Several other states, including California, Texas, Illinois and New Mexico, already offer need-based grants to undocumented students as a way to nurture and keep young talent from leaving.

The Washington State Dream Act should advance in the Senate. Give innocent children a fair shot at making something of their lives.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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