New Lt. Governor wants to cut Texas Dream Act

(news) statue

The Texas DREAM Act is facing revocation with Texas’ new legislative session. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is determined in leading the act’s abrogation.

In 2001, former governor Rick Perry signed the Texas DREAM Act, which gave undocumented immigrant children the opportunity to attend an in-state college and pay in-state tuition granted they have lived in Texas for at least 3 years and graduated from high school, or at least obtained a GED.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promises that repealing the DREAM Act is his top priority and calls it “a question of fairness for American citizens.” Lt. Gov. Patrick is not alone.

State Representative Mark Keough has filed his first bill, The Texas Fair Tuition Act, which would significantly redefine the Texas DREAM Act. “They (those who can use the DREAM Act) have to be a permanent resident and they have to be here legally… All I want people to do is say, ‘Hey, you don’t have any right to go there and sign up,’” said Rep. Keough.

UTSA Director of the Mexico Center, Dr. Harriett Romo, fears the act’s annulment will negatively impact Dreamers. “I think it is going to be very difficult to take away something that has benefited a large number of young people and their families,” Romo said. By 2013, the Texas DREAM Act had benefited over 20,000 undocumented students.

For every student enrolled under the Texas DREAM Act, UTSA loses over $11,000 that students would be paying as non-residents. Dr. Romo argued this could be an honorable sacrifice while looking at the big picture. “These young people are really exceptional. They have worked hard to overcome numerous barriers to make it to higher education. They are all succeeding in their fields and have chosen fields that they can give back to the community.”

However, legislators fear that the Texas DREAM Act does not benefit the community. They believe the act can be used as an open invitation for more illegal immigration. “The magnet that drives illegal immigration is partly caused by providing benefits like in-state tuition to those who have violated state laws,” said Rep. Keough in a public statement.

Dr. Romo suggests that immigration reform is necessary. “A lot of people want to go back to their country of origin… If we allowed more folks to work legitimately on a temporary basis in the country, I think you wouldn’t have as many wanting to come and staying on because they do not have the option of going back and forth.”

Like Lt. Gov. Patrick, Bedford Republican Rep. Jonathan Stickland agrees that the act is unfair to the country’s legal residents. In a public statement he said, “Why does someone who lives four miles outside the Oklahoma border have less of an opportunity than someone who comes here illegally from the southern border? It’s trying to pick winners and losers, and what we should be doing is putting Texas kids first.” Rep. Stickland is one of many who believe the Texas DREAM Act is rewarding the families’ illegal actions of crossing the border.

Dr. Romo defends the Dreamers’ parents and their outlawed decision of coming to America. “Many of them did come hoping to provide a better future for their families — it’s what most of us will do. If you yourself were in a situation where you saw no future for your children, it will be very tempting to take risks to give them an opportunity.”