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Government/Politics

Republicans Counter Early Protests To Repeal Texas Dream Act

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Ryan E. Poppe

Some Republican lawmakers believe the Texas Dream Act is another way for the state to be involved in the act of “picking winners and losers” and they want the law to go away. Many Republican lawmakers have stated that the repeal of the state’s Dream Act would be one of their legislative priorities this session.

Efforts to stop the repeal of the Texas Dream Act, however, organized by the group Keep HB 1403, drew dozens of proponents and students affected by the law to a rally at the State Capitol Wednesday.

The law, passed in 2001, allows immigrant children of undocumented parents to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities, if they fulfill certain other requirements, it’s a difference in rates that, in some cases, can be $6,000 a semester. 

But Bedford Republican Rep. Jonathan Stickland said the law doesn’t provide a level playing field for children of Texas residents. “Why does someone who lives four miles outside the Oklahoma border have less of an opportunity than someone who comes here illegally from the southern border? It’s trying to pick winners and losers, and what we should be doing is putting Texas kids first.”

Stickland’s not the only Republican with plans for the Texas Dream Act. Freshman Rep. Mark Keough, from the Woodlands, said he isn’t in favor of repealing the law, but he would like to see it changed to favor those in the country and state legally. “They [those who can use the Dream Act] have to be a permanent resident and they have to be here legally, and when I say legally, we are educating people, [have] educated people who are illegal. And so it is with special incentives for people living here illegally. All I want people to do is say, ‘Hey, you don’t have any right to go there and sign up.’”

Currently, Dream Act students are required to have graduated high school or received a GED from Texas, show they have resided in the state for the last three years and sign an affidavit that promises they will sign up for a legal residency card when they are old enough.

Keough’s bill, interestingly, would drop the residency requirement down to one year for students applying for the Texas Dream Act.

Supporters of the law say repealing it would hurt the state’s economy, because many of these students have gone on to become an integral part of the workforce. About 16,000 students are currently enrolled in colleges with the help of the Act.