Despite Opposition from the Left and the Right, Texas Legislature Moves Forward with Efforts to Repeal State Dream Act
Opposition to the Texas Dream Act repeal effort continues to mount. In recent weeks, a growing and diverse coalition of voices have come together to speak out against SB1819, a bill that promises to terminate in-state tuition rates to all undocumented students across the Lone Star State.
As Juan Escalante, an undocumented immigrant and a Master’s in Public Administration candidate at Florida State University, explains in a new Huffington Post blog:
“Opponents of the this bill are not giving up the fight. Already the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives has signaled his opposition to the bill, while the El Paso Times reported that SB 1819 could be stalled during debate in the Senate.
‘Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, on Wednesday told Quorum Report that he would not support an anti-Dream Act measure introduced by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Under Senate rules, 19 of the 31 members must sign a petition to allow a bill to be considered by the full Senate.
If all 11 Democrats and Eltife decline to sign, that means only one other Republican is needed to block Campbell’s bill.’
Senator Eltife confirmed his opposition during an interview with the Texas Tribune, and revealed that he suspected that there could be other Republican Senators who would oppose the bill.
‘I don’t speak for other Senators… I don’t know. I think there is a chance that there are other Republicans who are against repealing [the Texas Dream Act]. I think you are punishing the wrong people [DREAMers]. The system is completely broken, the federal government has got to fix the immigration system.’
SB1819 is expected to be heard in the Texas Senate floor as soon as next Wednesday. Activists like Karla Perez, an undocumented student at the University of Houston and President of the Youth Empowerment Alliance, provided the following comment when asked about her thoughts on the recent developments:
‘After the passage of SB1819 through the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and the Veteran Affairs and Military Installments Committee this week, we find hope in the recent statements of Senator Kevin Eltife (R-SD 1) that he will vote against SB1819. We hope that other Republican Senators will stand on the right side of history with Texas DREAMers and also oppose these efforts to repeal our in-state tuition, if they truly have Texas’ best interests at heart.’
Former Governor Rick Perry, who signed the Texas Dream Act into law in 2001, called Republicans who did not believe in providing undocumented students with a chance at an education “heartless,” back in 2011. But he has since abandoned the issue, stating that he is no longer the Governor of Texas and that he remains committed toborder security first.
Notably absent from the debate is George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, who was just awarded the inaugural Latino Leadership Award at the University of Texas. Mr. Bush defended the measure last year, but public comments on this repeal effort have yet to emerge.
As the clock continues to tick, expectations grow on what the future of the Texas Dream Act will be.”
Yesterday at the State Capitol, Mark Wiggins of KVUE described the broadening community outcry against SB1819, as well as the resulting “deep rift” within the Texas GOP. Wiggins writes:
“Businessmen and clergy, Republicans and Democrats gathered on the State Capitol steps Monday to urge lawmakers not to repeal the so-called ‘Texas DREAM Act.’
Current and former members from both sides, including the bill’s original Democratic and Republican co-authors, passionately defended the legislation.
‘This is something that’s going to affect thousands, and thousands will not forget if they make the wrong decision,’ said state Rep. Ramon Romero, Jr. (D-Fort Worth).
One of those who could be effected is University of North Texas at Dallas psychology major Ramiro Luna.
‘I arrived here when I was seven-years-old. So Texas is my home. This is the only place that I know,’ Luna said.
An aspiring political leader with dreams of someday giving back to his community, Luna benefits from the law passed with bipartisan support and signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) in 2001 which allows certain undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition rates…
…While the legislation could come to a vote in the Senate, it’s unclear how much support it has in the House. Powerful conservative economic interests, including the Texas Association of Business, have loudly opposed the measure.
If the bill emerges from the Senate successfully, all signs point to a heated clash to come.”
Bob Ray Sanders, columnist for the Star-Telegram, echoed the sentiment expressed at the State Capitol yesterday, writing in his latest column:
“Repealing the act and forcing undocumented students to pay higher out-of-state tuition is some lawmakers’ way of carrying out their promises of getting tough on immigration…while some would say their stand is based on sound fiscal and legal policies, it is not a stretch to believe that such a mean-spirited position is rooted in the ever-so-fertile soil of anti-immigrant bias.
Despite how one might feel about illegal immigration, it ought to be understood that children who are here, legally or otherwise, ought to be educated, for that is the best way to ensure that they become contributing members of our society.”