CWU News

Beyond HB 1079 conference scheduled Saturday at CWU

Undocumented youths living in Washington state and educators interested in helping them pursue a college education are invited to attend the seventh annual Beyond HB 1079 conference October 5 at Central Washington University.

For the second straight year, the all-day forum will take place in Central Washington, providing undocumented young people and their families with access to information and resources that will help connect them with higher-education opportunities.

The conference — named after a 2003 state law that allows non-U.S. citizens to pay in-state tuition rates — started at the University of Washington in 2012 and was held in Western Washington until last year, when it moved to Yakima Valley College. 

The Yakima conference received such a positive response that organizers opted to stage the event east of the Cascades again in 2019. 

“One of the reasons it’s so important for us to be in Central Washington is because resources over there are so limited,” said director Yuríana Garcia Tellez, who has been involved with Beyond HB 1079 since she was a student at UW. 

“Last year’s event at YVC was a huge success because we saw a lot of people who couldn’t attend the conference when it was in Western Washington. Our main goal is to provide better access, and bringing the event to more people just made sense.”

Similar to last year’s event, the Beyond HB 1079 conference at CWU will draw families and educators from all over Washington state, plus some from Idaho.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC) at CWU. Students and their families will be admitted for free, but a fee is required for educational professionals. 

Garcia Tellez said the main goals of Beyond HB 1079 are to discuss U.S. immigration policy, financial aid opportunities available to undocumented students, and how to empower these young people so they can achieve their educational goals.

“These days it can seem like these people no longer have access to their dreams, and we want to demystify that for them,” Garcia Tellez said. “We also want to make sure the educators who are helping them have the correct information.”

After check-in and a brief welcome presentation, attendees will participate in a panel discussion titled “The state of undocumented families in Washington state,” moderated by UW graduate student Marco Dorado.

Three breakout sessions also are planned, along with a community resources fair during the lunch hour. The fair will provide young people and their families with information about financial aid, scholarships, college requirements, and more to help put them on a path to enrollment in higher education. 

Students also can learn how to apply for U.S. citizenship and what they must do to become eligible.

The conference will be equally beneficial for educators, said Verónica Gómez-Vilchis, assistant director at the CWU Diversity and Equity Center (DEC) who is helping put on the Ellensburg event. 

“The conference gives people who aren’t part of the undocumented community a better understanding of how they can support students who are,” she said. “Our focus is getting more young people into higher education, so we need to share information and real-world experiences with the teachers and counselors who are trying to help them.”

Gómez-Vilchis added that the conference is designed to help students of all ethnicities, not just members of the Latinx community.

“We’re here to serve people from all over the world,” she said. 

At least 300 people are expected to attend this year’s conference, which will feature keynote speaker Alejandra Silva Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant who works as a project coordinator in the Department of Surgery at UW. Beyond HB 1079 assistant director Yazmin Aguilar, an alumna of CWU and UW, is also scheduled to speak. 

Students and their families who would like to attend the conference can pre-register at The deadline is Monday, September 30. On-site registration will be offered for educational professionals the day of the conference.

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,