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Christian Letter

Christian Letter

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Published by HoustonPress

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Published by: HoustonPress on Mar 07, 2012
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03/07/2012

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3.6.12 – 
THE REST OF THE STORY: IN-STATE TUITION FOR ILLEGALIMMIGRANTSFROM: TEX. REP. WAYNE CHRISTIANFriends,Recently, you may have received a letter in the mail or a phone call from myopponent claiming that I am weak on immigration because of a vote I cast in 2003to set college tuition rates of the children of illegal immigrants at the "in-state"rate. The plain facts are that I, as well as 147 of my colleagues in the Texas House,did vote for the bill. However, there is much more to the story of what happened onthe floor that day in Austin.First and most importantly, this bill was treated on the House floor as a highereducation bill, not an illegal immigration bill. The legislation (HB 1403 in the 77thsession) laid out who would be considered a Texas resident for the purpose of tuition rates for our state's public universities.Conservative legislators such as myself were concerned with how this bill wouldimpact our state's large illegal immigration population,as we did not want tocreate any more incentives for people to cross our borders illegally and negativelyimpact the Texas taxpayer.To address the concerns of myself and other conservatives, language wasintroduced into the bill to make it clear thatonly the children of illegal immigrantswho were seeking American citizenship would be given the in-state price.The language reads very clearly, "An alien who is living in this country under a
visa permitting permanent residence
or who
has applied to or has a petition pending with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to attain lawful status
under federalimmigration law has the same privilege of qualifying for resident status for tuitionand fee purposes under this subchapter as has a citizen of the United States."We thought this addressed the issue completely and prevented any abuse of oursystem, and the bill passed nearly unanimously in both the Texas House and Senateand was signed into law by the Governor.No one thought this bill would become controversial. In fact, after the session noneof the conservative think-tanks used this bill in their ratings of the Legislature,
 
because it appeared to be a simple and straightforward higher education billdefining residency.Again, we legislators were told that this bill would only affect children of illegalimmigrants that met certain and strict requirements. Amongst them, were thatthese children had to be students in our Texas public schools for at least three yearsand graduate with a Texas high school diploma.Further, and more importantly tomyself and other conservative legislators, was that these children were to alreadybe in the process of acquiring American citizenship.Because we had already invested your precious state tax dollars in giving thesechildren a public education (an unfunded mandate of the federal government)andthey were on the path to US Citizenship
,
we thought it would be beneficial to ourstate to give these children a better chance at becoming productive members of society.By allowing them to pay for their tuition at an in-state rate, they wouldhave a better chance of graduating from college and becoming taxpayers andindependent citizens that would raise future generations of self-sufficient andproductive Americans. It was by no means a give-away of taxpayer funds, as thesechildren would be expected to pay for their education in full just like everyone elsein Texas.It was simply an opportunity to make college more affordable for children whowere doing the right thing in spite of their parents' unlawful decision to bring theminto our country illegally.In fact, I was named one of Top Ten Worst Legislators in Texas by the liberalAustin press for my attempt to prevent scholarships from being awarded to thechildren of illegal immigrants, as I do not believe that any public money should bediverted away from hard-working Texans and their children who are seeking tobetter themselves.Unfortunately,a big and unintended loop hole existed in the bill.
 
If the child of anillegal immigrant was in our schools for at least three years and graduated with aTexas high school diploma, they would qualify all the same for the in-state price forcollege.It was a mistake that went unnoticed until the bill was implemented.Myself and others who had voted for it have introduced numerous pieces of legislation to repeal this provision since the ugly truth was revealed. As it isimplemented currently, there is no expectation that the child is in the process of becoming an American citizen and that is absolutely shameful.We have an immigration crisis in our state and our nation, and most pressing is therejection of the values and institutions of America by the growing illegal immigrantpopulation.We need to first and foremost end the flow in and out of our country byillegal immigrants at the federal level.

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