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THE REST OF THE STORY: IN-STATE TUITION FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM: TEX. REP. WAYNE CHRISTIAN Friends, Recently, you may have received a letter in the mail or a phone call from my opponent claiming that I am weak on immigration because of a vote I cast in 2003 to 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 on the floor that day in Austin. First and most importantly, this bill was treated on the House floor as a higher education bill, not an illegal immigration bill. The legislation (HB 1403 in the 77th session) 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 would impact our state's large illegal immigration population, as we did not want to create any more incentives for people to cross our borders illegally and negatively impact the Texas taxpayer. To address the concerns of myself and other conservatives, language was introduced into the bill to make it clear that only the children of illegal immigrants who 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 federal immigration law has the same privilege of qualifying for resident status for tuition and 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 our system, and the bill passed nearly unanimously in both the Texas House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. No one thought this bill would become controversial. In fact, after the session none of the conservative think-tanks used this bill in their ratings of the Legislature,

because it appeared to be a simple and straightforward higher education bill defining residency. Again, we legislators were told that this bill would only affect children of illegal immigrants that met certain and strict requirements. Amongst them, were that these children had to be students in our Texas public schools for at least three years and graduate with a Texas high school diploma.Further, and more importantly to myself and other conservative legislators, was that these children were to already be in the process of acquiring American citizenship. Because we had already invested your precious state tax dollars in giving these children a public education (an unfunded mandate of the federal government) and they were on the path to US Citizenship, we thought it would be beneficial to our state 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 would have a better chance of graduating from college and becoming taxpayers and independent citizens that would raise future generations of self-sufficient and productive Americans. It was by no means a give-away of taxpayer funds, as these children would be expected to pay for their education in full just like everyone else in Texas. It was simply an opportunity to make college more affordable for children who were doing the right thing in spite of their parents' unlawful decision to bring them into our country illegally. In fact, I was named one of Top Ten Worst Legislators in Texas by the liberal Austin press for my attempt to prevent scholarships from being awarded to the children of illegal immigrants, as I do not believe that any public money should be diverted away from hard-working Texans and their children who are seeking to better themselves. Unfortunately, a big and unintended loop hole existed in the bill. If the child of an illegal immigrant was in our schools for at least three years and graduated with a Texas high school diploma, they would qualify all the same for the in-state price for college. 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 is implemented 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 the rejection of the values and institutions of America by the growing illegal immigrant population. We need to first and foremost end the flow in and out of our country by illegal immigrants at the federal level.

In addition, at the state level we need to remove barriers on law enforcement officers that prevent them from ascertaining a person's immigration status during routine police work. This is why I supported the "Sanctuary City" bill, which would've empowered our police officers to identify illegal immigrants and begin the process of sending them home, so that we Texans are not shouldering their burden in our schools and hospitals. Even this last session, I coauthored HB 623 which would've repealed the in-state tuition rate for illegal immigrants completely. I am by no means weak on illegal immigration. I have introduced numerous bills to make English the official language of the state of Texas, to prevent the issuance of driver's licenses to those not lawfully allowed to work in our state, and to ascertain an arrested person's immigration status before they are released from custody. I have voted numerous times to add more state resources to our border counties to help fight the flow of illegal immigrants into our state when the folks up in D.C. refuse to take our national border security seriously. I hope that you look at my 15 years of service to East Texas and see that my overwhelmingly conservative record speaks for itself, and when a mistake is made by the Legislature, myself included, I do not simply accept it and move on. I try to fix it and hold our state government accountable to the people it serves. God Bless,