Republicans in Texas are leading an effort to repeal the Texas Dream Act, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry in 2001.
SB 1819, a bill that promises to terminate in-state tuition rates and state financial assistance to all undocumented students across the Lone Star State, is currently sailing through the State Senate. Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who vowed during his campaign to dismantle the measure, and Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has signaled that he would not veto a repeal of the current law, have served as catalysts in ensuring that the efforts are prioritized through the state legislature.
The repeal effort is ironic; Texas became the first state to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates to attend public colleges and universities in 2001, when it adopted H.B. 1403 under a Republican governor and legislature. In 2005, Texas enacted S.B. 1528, which allows undocumented students to qualify for state-funded educational financial aid. Collectively, these two laws are known as the Texas DREAM Act.
While SB1819 continues to make headway through the Senate, there is some opposition. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has declared his opposition the repeal effort:
“These are young people who have played by the rules, who’ve qualified for admission at our colleges, who’ve gone to our public schools and, personally, I can think of a lot worse things these people can be doing with their lives than pursuing higher education and becoming engaged citizens in our economy and paying taxes.”
There is, however, support for the repeal effort among House Republicans.
According to data from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, undocumented immigrants in Texas have paid $1.6 billion dollars in state and local taxes, many of which have gone to sustain and support institutions of higher education across Texas.
Activists across Texas are mobilizing to ensure that SB1819, one of the several bills that aim to repeal the Texas Dream Act, is defeated during the current legislative effort. A petition has been launched by immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream, while undocumented students and their allies across Texas continue to voice their opposition to the Republican led effort.