I was the first in my family to graduate from college, much less to go to Medical school. I believe I was blessed by attending Texas elementary and high school, Tyler junior college, UT at Tyler, and then Med school and residency in San Antonio, Texas. I’m grateful, knowing that a “non-traditional student” (an older woman with a family) couldn’t have done that in any place but the USA and Texas. No one took my place or squeezed my kids out of a good education, even though we live in a small city where more than 50% of the surnames are of Spanish origin and we know that we have kids of illegal aliens in our schools.
Our law in Texas, (unofficially called The Texas DREAM Act after the failed Federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), allows a young adult — who was brought here as a minor through no fault of his own – to be counted as a resident only for calculating tuition rates in our State-supported colleges. The Federal residency or citizenship requirements do not change for someone going to college under this provision. Young people who finish at least 3 years of high school, get their diploma from a Texas high school, have lived in Texas the 12 months before applying, and who get admitted to a Texas college, pay in-state tuition. In contrast to what we often hear, the law doesn’t discriminate against legal aliens from other states: rather than 3 years of residency, they only have to live in Texas for one year to establish residency and it doesn’t matter where they went to high school.
In order to continue to qualify for in-State tuition rates, he must pass his classes, take a full or near-full load and promise to formally apply for legal residency status as soon as Federal law allows.
The “Texas DREAM Act” is the law in our state and was passed with veto-proof numbers by the Texas Legislature over 10 years ago, in 2001. HB 1403 passed in the Senate with 29 “yeas,”no “Nays.” It received 130 votes in favor in the House. The text of the Bill is, here. The Texas Legislature has never repealed the DREAM Act, although it was revised and made stricter in 2005 with SB 1528. That Bill also appeared veto-proof, with 31 votes in the Senate, and a non-recorded vote in the House. This year, the sole attempt by Senator Birdwell to increase tuition for undocumented students failed to make it out of the 82nd Legislature’s Senate, even when he tried to tie an amendment onto the larger Education Bill.
On most immigration subjects, I’m probably to the right of many people. I would insist that adults who cross the border illegally must go back to their country of origin before beginning any path to citizenship or residency. They should start the process on the other side of the border — *especially* if they have an anchor baby as proof that they have already broken our laws. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
In fact, I’m all for identifying adults who came here illegally, breaking our laws and for deporting the whole family until they can get in line and come here legally. Otherwise, we are encouraging people to break the law over and over. They go “underground” and are vulnerable. As a consequence, young people often graduate from our high schools truly “undocumented” in either country.
However, Federal law interferes with any attempt by the State to stop the problem where it begins. The Feds won’t deport people. They won’t allow us to identify those illegal adults with kids in our schools and deport them. Federal Courts have ruled that we must bend over backwards to prevent any appearance of scrutiny that might “chill” the educational prospects of any child, from preschool to high school graduation. In spite of all these limits on what the States can do, there’s no Federal attempt at a legal provision for identifying their country of origin.
So, until we can get the federal law changed to better control and deport known adult illegal aliens, do we Texans encourage their identification as (grateful) United States Americans and Texans or do we make them men and women without a country?