Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate for president, has come under criticism from opponents of illegal immigration for his support of the Texas Dream Act, which provides in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.
* The Texas Dream Act, HB 1403, was filed in the Texas House on Feb. 8, 2001.
* The bill amended the Texas education code to classify an alien living in the U.S. who has petitioned the INS for legal status to be treated the same as an American citizen for the purpose of those who qualify for resident status for tuition and fee purposes.
* The individual would also have to have lived with a parent or guardian for at least three years while attending a public or private high school. In addition he or she would have had to graduate from high school or received an equivalent GED while residing in Texas. He or she has to have lived in Texas for at least one year between the time of entering high school and graduating. He or she has to have enrolled in an institution of higher learning no earlier than the 2011 fall semester.
* The bill exempted foreign students from paying foreign student tuition if they were citizens of a nation adjacent to Texas (i.e. Mexico), registered in an academic teaching institution or junior college, and met the qualifications of Texas residency provided by the bill.
* The main argument for the bill was that it would provide a more equitable access to institutions of higher education to children of illegal aliens who were attempting to legalize their status. Thus the pool of skilled, educated workers would increase, saving Texas money in the long run. Discriminating against children of illegal immigrants who entered the country through no fault of their own was said to be unfair.
* The main argument against the bill was that it would turn a blind eye to law breaking (i.e. residing in the country illegally), would be unfair to students who reside in Texas legally, and would cost the state a considerable amount of money. Finally, the law is said to provide a magnet for illegal aliens to enter the United States to provide an education for their children.
* The Texas Dream Act was signed into law on June 16, 2001, and went into effect immediately.
* From 2001 to 2006, some 11,000 Texas residents, not all children of illegal immigrants, have used the Texas Dream Act to attend Texas institutions of higher learning at resident rates.
* All attempts to repeal or amend the Texas Dream Act in the Texas Legislature have so far failed.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.