Texas advanced a bill early Tuesday that would repeal the DREAM Act and force illegals to pay out-of-state tuition.
Texas was the first state in the country to pass a DREAM Act granting in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants, reports The Dallas Morning News. The vote was only the first of several the measure will have to clear if it is to become state law. A 2-1 vote along party lines advanced it out of a subcommittee, but it still must pass a full committee hearing, be approved by both houses of the legislature and then be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The measure is already provoking a furious response from illegal immigrants and activists. More than a hundred rallied in the state capitol building on Monday to protest the measure.
Texas started offering in-state tuition to illegals in 2001, after the Texas DREAM Act easily passed the state legislature. Current law allows any illegal immigrant who has a Texas high school diploma and has been a resident of the state for at least 3 years to pay the same tuition rate as full citizens. Beneficiaries also must sign an affidavit pledging to apply for legal status as soon as they are able.
Similar laws have since been enacted in 16 other states. If Texas repeals its version, it would become just the second state to repeal the benefit after enacting it, after Wisconsin.
Critics of the bill, mostly Democrats, argue it punishes children who had no control over their arrival in the country, and they also say it produces economic benefits for the state. Republican backers, on the other hand, argue that lower tuition is one of many things that encourages more illegals to cross the border in the first place.
Several attempts to repeal the law have been made in the past, but have failed. However, following gains for Republicans in the 2014 mid-terms, supporters think the time is right to make another attempt. Buoying their efforts is a change in the governor’s mansion. While former Gov. Rick Perry supported the Dream Act, Abbott has said he would not veto a repeal.
Texas has an estimated 1.7 illegal immigrants in the state, the most of any state besides California.
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