Republicans in the Texas House are being thanked and cheered by illegal immigrants for defeating conservatives’ efforts to repeal a law that grants them subsidized, in-state tuition rates to public colleges and universities.
Despite Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stating that the program needs obvious reform or a full repeal, House Speaker Joe Straus has taken opposition on the program. In an interview earlier this year, Straus brazenly and openly declared the program that grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants to be “perfectly fine.”
The law, which was implemented in 2001, allows illegal immigrants to receive subsidized, in-state tuition at any public university in Texas as long as they can prove residency in the state for at least three years, and have obtained a diploma or GED from a Texas high school.
Ending the practice has been a priority of Republican voters for years and in the most recent session of the Texas Legislature, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) and other lawmakers filed bills to reform and outright end the practice, largely viewed as a “magnet,” incentivizes and drives further illegal immigration to Texas.
Stickland’s House Bill 393 would have repealed the program wholesale, but never even had a chance at passing. Even though the bill seems like a sure fire, easily agreed upon piece of conservative legislation, it never received as much as a hearing in the Republican majority House, due to the efforts of Straus and his Democrat allies.
The failure of Texas Republicans to advance legislation didn’t just die in the Texas House, it also died in the Texas Senate thanks to the efforts of State Sens. Kel Seliger (Amarillo) and Craig Estes (Wichita Falls), who joined with Democrats to ensure the bill was dead on arrival. Likewise, the bill was never prioritized by the governor.
As Texans might guess, funding illegal immigrants education costs Texas taxpayers millions of dollars each year, all to reward an illegal act and incentivize illegal immigrants to risk their lives attempting to come here.
Reform of this egregious practice should be a top priority of the next legislative session, whether it be a regular or another special session. Until then, Republican voters should ask candidates running for office where they stand on this issue, and vote in the primary accordingly.