I was fortunate, along with Daniel Cervera to be asked to testify in favor of (SB 1631), the bill which would end Texas Taxpayer’s funding of financial aid to illegal students.
This bill does not say illegal students cannot attend a Texas College of their choice, rather, it stipulates conditions to qualify as a Texas resident.
As is tradition in the Senate, the bill with the most testimonies goes last. We went through several bills proposed by different Authors, witnessing the speed in which legislation moves. It was like clock-work.
The room was packed. Although there were seats towards the front of the room, people packed in along the back. I guessed they must have been spectators, or maybe reporters. Lots of young Hispanics in the room…college aged.
They called us to testify, four names at a time…we sat at a small table situated directly in front of the Committee Chair and members of the committee. Microphones were live and we were ready to hear testimony. First, a Hispanic man, Angel Apetura from Americans for Prosperity, who spoke in favor of the bill. He started off by immediately saying. “Let me say, after fourty years of handling discrimination cases and seeing it first hand, I can tell you for certain, this bill is not a racist bill,” adding “It would simply respect and honor Texas residency.”
We had three minutes to say what we wanted, then possibly take questions. It was my turn.
You can listen to my testimony here –> Duke Machado Testimony on SB 1631
“Thank you for the opportunity to be able to come and express our opinions here today. First I want to say that I fully support the bill that Senator Birdwell has presented. I know that he has taken some immediate blows for that stance. I want to say, as a member of the Hispanic Conservative community, the people I talk to, convey to me that they do not want their tax dollars to go towards funding non US citizens. This is the number one reason we support this.
Second, we believe the Hispanic community has become dependent on handouts and assistance. We have to take on the responsibility ourselves, and illegal students who moved here when they were two to three years old have had fifteen years to become a citizen. The bottom line is that we have to make the determination that we are American citizens and our tax dollars should go to American citizens. “
In the next audio clip, you will hear the Committee Chair, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, ask one of the young students a few questions regarding her preference of the word “illegal.”
Senator : “Ms. Vicentes, I noticed you used the term undocumented…and I appreciate that. Is that your preferred terminology?”
Ms. Vicentes : “Yes Ma’am.”
Senator : “There are people who use the word “illegal” and “aliens,” how do you feel about those terms?”
Ms. Vincentes : “I don’t feel that any human is illegal…and that all humans are humans, therefore we are not aliens. Undocumented is the proper term becuase it is lack of documentation, like a social security number, that makes us different.”
I sat in disbelief as I watched someone, not a citizen of Texas or the United States, sit there in our Texas Capitol and suggest we are discriminating against her and her fellow illegal college students right after admitting she has lived here for over a decade illegally.
One after another, one illegal student after another, they lined up and said things like “this bill will steal our dream” or “…I can barely afford tuition now, much less if I have to pay out-of-state tuition.” All but one of the students were from Texas A&M…how did they say it…”I’m a proud Aggie of the class of 2013, and I’m an undocumented citizen.” Some contradicted themselves by suggesting they would be proud to become Americans, yet could not understand that laws are designed to protect the citizens from undue taxation, which this is. They acted as if the laws didn’t apply to them. They felt as if they deserve to continue receiving our money.
After a half dozen or so testimonies from illegal students, the Chair called our good friend Daniel Cervera. He had the benefit of hearing all testimony to that point, and when he got the opportunity to speak, he hit on all the points that were missed, driving home the message…Texas is what it is because of the rule of law, explaining to the students, “I still have family in Mexico, I don’t go down to visit them because it’s too dangerous. It’s dangerous because the laws have broken down. Unless we want that here in Texas, we have to uphold the law.”
Listen to Daniel Cervera’s testimony here –> Daniel Cervera Testimony
After Daniel, we listened to a few more illegal students. The students explained they would have a much more difficult time paying for tuition if they were forced to pay out-of-state rates. One student said the bill would basically “oppress a certain class in the state of Texas. What I mean by that is, you’re purposely not wanting to let people get an education, which means we want them (Hispanics) to stay here and not get educated.” The student went on to say if they couldn’t go to college, then the Taxpayers are going to have to pay for the increase in crime.
Not missing an opportunity, Senator Royce West , D-Dallas, asked the student, “so, this is going to put a burden on society?”
Student : “Yes.”
Senator West : “Ok.”
We have the audio from the students. Their testimonies revealed much of the gameplan we can expect from Obama in 2012. In the end, we Hispanic Conservative Republicans shared our views, making a stand with Senator Birdwell. Let’s hope the “testimony” of illegal residents is not held to the same standard as that of a U.S. Citizen.