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Originally published Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 7:02 AM

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Licenses, college aid shape immigration debate

Emboldened by the critical role minorities played in the November elections, immigrant rights advocates in Olympia want to play offense this year.

Associated Press

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Unfortunately the Liberal chorus out there will deny these facts, and will go one step... MORE
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SEATTLE —

Emboldened by the critical role minorities played in the November elections, immigrant rights advocates in Olympia want to play offense this year.

They want to push for state college financial aid for young immigrants who've won temporary resident status and to overhaul local elections to ensure better representation for minorities.

However, the power play by Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom that gave Republicans a ruling majority in the Senate may stifle those efforts.

Already, Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver has filed a bill that would bring back the often-debated issue of requiring proof of legal U.S. residency when obtaining a driver's license.

And Benton and Democrat Sen. Tim Sheldon, who defected with Tom, are sponsoring a measure that would bar all illegal immigrants from in-state tuition and college financial aid.

These issues will shape the debate in the current legislative session.

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