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Illegal Immigrants and In-State Tuition

For a week now, media outlets around the world have drawn in with laser focus on the answer Texas Governor, Rick Perry gave regarding in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants.

They are “dialed” in on his response because it gives Conservatives and Republicans a funny feeling in the pit of their stomach. Unsure as to what exactly he meant when he said he was not opposed to illegal immigrants receiving a “break” as it relates to how much they will pay for college.

Earlier this year, I had the honor and privilege to testify at the State Capitol, for the Texas Senate Education Committee. Our Senator, Brian Birdwell (SD-22) was presenting a Bill to end tuition assistance for illegal immigrants and put an end to in-state tuition for out of state students.

In Texas, we are creating our own nightmare. We cannot ask if a student is legal or illegal. We cannot ask whether their parents are legal either. So, now we have generations of illegals, many graduating from high-school, living American lives, and striving to succeed.

Problem is, they’re illegal. They either moved here with their family at an early age, or they came on their own. Since our education system is lacking in screening processes to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to residents only, we find ourselves in an overburdened, on the edge system…unable to cope with the large influx of illegal students.

I can understand the Governor’s statement. I hear it in many circles. But, the reality is that by continuing to allow Texas colleges to accept illegal immigrants in Texas as “In-State” residents, they allow those students to participate in the tuition assistance program.

Now, at a time when Texas residents are trying to survive…working second jobs to pay their bills, we discover that illegals are reaping benefits? It doesn’t sit well.

We’re not saying these students should not be eligible to attend college and advance their education. All we’re saying is, “Since you cannot prove you are a Texas resident, you must therefore be an out-of-state resident and pay out-of –state tuition rates.”

What’s wrong with that?

I’ll tell you… If a candidate like Rick Perry, who is extremely accepting of Hispanics, has openly applauded the successes of many Hispanic leaders and even appointed multiple Hispanics to high level positions in government appears to pander to his “base,” then he realizes he may just lose the support of the ever growing Hispanic population.

It’s a double-edged sword.

So, rather than alienate Hispanics, he is in fact making a stand and taking a beating for it. Question is, is he on the right side of the line?

I don’t think so. I think his position perpetuates the problem rather than solves it. Wouldn’t we be better off developing a documentation program that illegal students and residents can participate in to come out of the shadows?

If we know who’s living among us, then wouldn’t it make sense that a student could qualify for a student Visa? With that visa, if they decide to…a student could begin the process of obtaining citizenship. Once a citizen, they can build their dream and thrive in America. But if we don’t address the real issue, we’ll continue going in circles…appearing unable to solve the problem.

I would like to see the Governor acknowledge that illegal immigrants living in Texas are not legal Texas residents, and therefore, must register as an out-of-state student.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has a plan that would address this exact issue…maybe it’s time for Dewhurst to let everyone in on his plans to solve this lingering problem?

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