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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Column: Waking from the DREAM and facing the realities

The Texas DREAM Act is under scrutiny this legislative session, and with the majority of the Texas Legislature leaning to the right, things could soon change.
To recap, the DREAM Act is a law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they follow a number of stipulations. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from high school or received their GED in Texas, have lived in the state for three years and must sign documentation stating they are seeking legal residency.
The act was passed in 2001 with bipartisan support, making Texas the first state to pass a law relating to in-state tuition and undocumented students. However, since the signing of the law, Republican legislators have attempted to repeal the act. The current bill on file dealing with the DREAM Act is House Bill 360, filed in November by Republican Rep. Mark Keough. The bill, while not explicitly mentioning the DREAM Act, would effectively kill the law by requiring applicants for in-state tuition to have already become a citizen.
“Residents, who are unable to provide verifiable proof of citizenship or lawful residency are prohibited from obtaining in-state tuition rates for any semesters until which time proof or verifiable status can be obtained,” the bill reads.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made it clear in a number of interviews that he is actively working to repeal the DREAM Act. Even if the bill by Keough passes the legislature, it must be approved by Gov. Greg Abbott. However, advocates of the DREAM Act shouldn’t get their hopes up too high, as Abbott was quoted during his gubernatorial campaign saying he would be willing to sign any bill to repeal the law.
While he isn’t against the act on principle, Abbott has concerns that the current act needs to be fixed. In an interview with KXAN television station in January, Abbott told reporters he believes the way the law is structured is ‘flawed’ and ‘has to be fixed.’
However, the political environment has changed since the days of 2001. Both houses of the Texas Legislature have a Republican majority, and anyone who has seen the most recent party platform objectives of the Republican Party won’t be encouraged by what they have to say about the DREAM Act. It states that a goal is to stop in-state tuition for undocumented students.
If HB 360 is passed, the chances of the act coming back into law soon just doesn’t seem likely. The bipartisanship that passed the DREAM Act bill is gone, and while reform may be an option, it will likely take some time for both sides of the political line to find a solution both can be happy with.
Advocates of the DREAM Act are making their support known. Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) filed a house concurrent resolution listing the benefits that the DREAM Act has had so far for undocumented students and for the state of Texas in general. In the resolution, Anchia lists several reasons, both economic and social, as to why the state legislature should uphold the DREAM Act.
“In the 2010 fiscal year, close to 16,500 undocumented, immigrant students qualified for in-state tuition, and the students themselves paid $32.7 million in tuition and related expenses; were these students to be deprived of the incentives offered by the Texas DREAM Act, the loss to the Texas economy would be considerable,” Anchia said in the resolution.
For now, advocates and opponents of the DREAM Act can communicate with their representatives and wait to see what the 84th Legislative Session has in store for higher education.
Jennifer Reiley is a communication senior and assistant managing editor for The Battalion.

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