Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dallas man launches effort to preserve Texas Dream Act

Glad to see this leadership out of Dallas.  Texas was the first state to pass the in-state tuition waiver law, culminating in what is today known as the federal DREAM Act.  It's definitely going to be a struggle next legislative session holding onto it.  It will not be good for Texas to move backwards on this.  Our legislators need to hear from everyone on how this is good for Texas.

A good resource on this is the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA), an immigrant rights coalition that has heretofore successfully challenged opposition in Texas to its own law (HB 1403).

-Angela

Dallas man launches effort to preserve Texas Dream Act
Dallas businessman Jorge Baldor is not waiting for the beginning of the 2015 Texas legislative session on Jan. 13.

He has started working now to defeat a possible push by newly elected Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Texas Republicans to repeal HB 1403, which allows unauthorized immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities. Patrick has called such benefits “magnets” for illegal immigration.
“They’re lumping 1403 with immigration issues and made it a rallying cry for conservatives,” said Baldor, who has launched a website — Keep1403.com — to bring awareness of what the law has done and what it has meant for more than 16,000 students and their families.
“This is a mean-spirited effort, based on a geographic definition,” he said of the repeal effort. “A lot of these students have faced incredible hardships and are working to help their families. We’re going to work with business and religious groups to show that opponents are on the wrong side of history.”
He’s got some facts to back him up.
What’s wrong with educating a child who was brought to this country by their undocumented parents?
Nothing. So said the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982, when it ruled in Plyler vs. Doe that denying state funds to educate these children was unconstitutional.
Nearly 20 years later, a GOP-controlled state Senate and a bipartisan state House expanded that educational path to undocumented students by passing 1403, known as the Texas Dream Act, almost unanimously.
Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia, one of the authors of the bill in the state House in 2001, said he was very concerned about this new push and said it could set Texas back economically.
“We’re going to fight this tooth and nail,” Garcia said. “These kids aren’t asking for anything special — just the same tuition their high school classmates are paying.”
He makes the argument that most supporters of the bill have made: “If we don’t educate these young people, they won’t become an asset to Texas. They’ll become a liability.”
Leticia Van de Putte, who ran unsuccessfully against Patrick, was the sponsor of the bill in the state Senate. She struggled to get it out of the education committee and onto the Senate floor. It ended up with all the “qualifiers” it has today, she said.
Those qualifiers include the three-year residency requirement, as well as a requirement that the students apply for citizenship.
“These families have already paid into the tax base, so they’re not getting a free deal,” she said, referring to the arguments then and now.
“We’ve already made the investment in these kids. It’s working well. It would be economically stupid to deny them a higher education. Certainly, none of the universities have complained about it.”
Many Latino Republicans are also opposed to any effort to repeal 1403.
Victor Medina, a member of Café con Leche Republicans of Texas, said Patrick was trying to “score cheap political points.”
“By denying these young Texans the chance to earn a college education, you are creating a permanent underclass that will have ramifications both for their families and our state, as a whole, in the future,” Medina said.
“These kids have known no other home but Texas. They deserve a fighting chance.”

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