Monday, April 02, 2007

Texas’ Immigrant out-of-state tuition waiver bill in trouble

Most of the anti-immigration bills seem dead thanks to a lot of work by the University Leadership Initiative, the ACLU, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and many, many more. However, as Linda Christofilis in Rep. Noriega (Houston) states, the final target is HB 1403 passed in 2001. HB 1403 is Texas’ immigrant out-of-state tuition-waiver that has served as an inspiration for several other states to pass their own similar bills. When this bill passed, Rep. Noriega’s research showed that close to half of all the HISD valedictorians and salutatorians were immigrant. HB 1403 was sold as a workforce issue and that it no longer made sense to deny opportunities for a group that is a large and growing segment of our student population—and indeed, in many instances, achieving at a higher rate than their native-born peers. This is an investment that will only yield dividends. It’s shameful that some of our leadership seek to sacrifice these youth, together with Texas’ future. -Angela

From: Linda Christofilis

Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 5:30 PM

Subject: HB 1403 (Texas’ Immigrant out-of-state tuition waiver bill)

Dear friends,

We have learned that it's likely that one or more of the bills filed to repeal the resident tuition for immigrant students under HB 1403 will be presented in a public hearing on April 16. We believe the Committee may also meet on April 12, but we think the bill(s) will not be heard until April 16.

Time is short so I am mobilizing our network to do as much damage control as possible prior to that date.

Recipients of this email can take action by sending a postcard or letter to the members of the House State Affairs Committee. It would be helpful if persons who might reside in the district of any of the members of the State Affairs committee... especially the chairman, David Swinford would write to their representative and express support for retaining access to higher education for ALL students. The other members are: Byron Cook, Ken Paxton, Dan Flynn, Corbin Van Arsdale, Tan Parker.

All of them may be addressed at P.O. Box 2910, Austin, 78768.

At the same time, cards or letters to the "leadership" (Governor, PO Box 12428, Austin 78711; Lt. Governor, PO Box 12068, Austin 78711; Speaker, PO Box 2910, Austin 78768) also are in order, especially the Speaker Tom Craddick Tell them you oppose any divisive debate in the state house on a federal matter, pointing out that the overwhelming testimony of business and attorneys at Wednesday's (Mar 28) joint hearing on immigration and border affairs was to the point that, first, state legislators have absolutely no concept of how complex are immigration laws and the unintended consequences of the ill conceived bills that have been filed; second, the problem must be fixed by Congress, not the Legislature; and third, that the state and the federal government need to provide sufficient funds and personnel to protect our borders form illegal traffic in both contraband and human beings. Texas business leaders also went on record, again, in support of continuing access to higher education for ALL students, as they are ALL critical to the future economic viability of this state.

The Speaker might be especially sensitive to cards or letters from Tech students or graduates, and/or educators in the district.

In 2001, the personal testimony of students to the Higher Education committee was a strong factor in the passage of HB 1403. Most of the State Affairs committee members are new to the legislature, certainly since 2001, and seven of the nine committee members are Republicans. If you are a student, or a teacher or professor who plans to bring students to Austin to testify at the hearing, please let me know as soon as you can. We would like to help make your experience at the capitol as comfortable and rewarding as possible, and perhaps coordinate disparate groups and help them make connections here. Email works best, easier to keep track of it, thanks.

If you are a student or the teacher of 1403 students who would like to offer a personal statementœ how/when you came to Texas, your family, goals, achievements, dreams, etc. we would be happy to receive those statements either electronically, faxed or emailed. We will add them to those I already have and share copies with the members of the committee.

They need not use their full name, if they wish. Statements or letters from teachers or anyone who works with these students are appreciated.

Finally, I ask that you share this information with your friends and associates who support equal access to higher education for all the children in Texas, regardless of their place of birth, and ask them to do the same, spreading the word like ripples in a pond. These students are vibrant, highly motivated, over achievers usually, from families with strong faith and family values, and a strong work ethic. They are creative and entrepreneurial, involved in their community and church, and they usually want to go into professional disciplines that we needœ teachers in science and math, nurses, doctors, engineers, business and finance. Please help us protect their dreams.

Call or email me at any time.

Linda Christofilis


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