What’s happening at the intersection of rampant illegal immigration and education in Texas? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Last week, multiple incumbent members of the Texas House, who voted to strip a school choice provision from an omnibus education bill in late 2023, released political ads claiming their votes were motivated by border security convictions.

Gov. Greg Abbott called one of these lawmakers, Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), a liar, and State Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) a fraud for “knowingly misleading his own voters to try to protect the teacher unions.”

Both VanDeaver and Darby suggested their votes against school choice were to remove magnets for illegal immigration. However, neither representative co-authored or authored a bill to abolish the longstanding practice of giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens in 2023 (House Bill 3280).

The Republican Party of Texas platform calls for both the abolishment of in-state tuition for illegal aliens and for proof of legal residency to enroll in public school. Neither Darby nor VanDeaver authored an amendment to require citizenship for enrollment in government schools either.

Meanwhile, as Darby and VanDeaver fight for their electoral futures by any means necessary, Texas schools have seen an unknown increase in illegal aliens seeking enrollment, further complicating the education of Texas children.

Take Channelview Independent School District, for example.

In 2012, this Harris County-based district’s student body was comprised of 24 percent English as a Second Language students. In 2022, that number had ballooned to 38.4 percent.

Unfortunately, updated figures on ESL students and teachers during 2023 have not been published for Texas voters by the Texas Education Agency.

Like several other school districts, Channelview has been participating in an apparently coordinated social media campaign to turn out voters for the 2024 primary election, sharing graphics that encourage cross-over voting—Democrats voting in the Republican Primary or vice versa.

School choice is enshrined in the GOP platform and was supported by a vast majority of Texas’ Republican primary voters in the 2022 ballot proposition.

Early voting in the March primary election starts on February 20, 2024; Election Day is March 5.

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.