Last week, Republican State Rep. Jeff Cason (Bedford) submitted a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott requesting that he add the consideration of magnet policies, specifically ending in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, to the upcoming special session agenda.

“If we aim to address our border crisis, we must also address the magnet policies that encourage the continued flaunting of our immigration laws. That is why I am asking that you put an end to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants by adding this to your agenda for the upcoming special session,” Cason said. “We have a unique opportunity to address this issue. I will file this bill again on July 8th and I encourage you to help me end this crisis.”

87th Legislative Session

Cason filed a bill that would have done this during the regular legislative session that ended on May 31, but it was never granted a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee.

Notably, that committee is chaired by State Rep. Jim Murphy (R–Houston), who also happens to be the chairman of the House Republican Caucus.

The Republican Party of Texas platform includes Plank 296, which states:

Eliminate Illegal Immigration Magnets: No tax dollars should be provided for social or educational programs for illegal aliens. All existing laws providing for in-state tuition and nonemergency medical care shall be rescinded. All nonverifiable foreign-issued identification cards shall be legally invalid in the United States.

Special Session

State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) sent a similar letter to Abbott in June requesting he add border security legislation to the special session agenda.

Similarly, the Texas Freedom Caucus recently requested that Abbott add border security to the agenda but stopped short of giving specifics, saying, “We applaud your efforts to help secure the border. The Legislature should take bold steps to provide the State of Texas with additional tools and resources to address the worsening border crisis.”

After the Legislature convened, Abbott announced several initiatives to address the growing border crisis, including the construction of a Texas border wall or barrier. Thus far, none of his announcements have included directly addressing magnets like in-state tuition.

Abbott has yet to release an official agenda for the special session that he announced will begin on Thursday, July 8. Based on previous statements by Abbott himself, it is widely assumed that issues like election integrity, bail reform, protections for free speech on social media platforms, and unknown improvements to a ban on critical race theory will be included on the agenda.

House Speaker Dade Phelan also recently charged 12 House committees to focus on certain border crisis issues, but none of them included addressing potential magnets for illicit activity such as in-state tuition.

The issue of border security was not named a priority of Abbott’s during the regular session, and the Legislature did very little to address the burgeoning crisis during the 140 days they were convened.

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.