January 14, 2007
Perry defends HB1403

First he channels Chris Bell on the subject of the border fence, then he stands by the law that allows the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities. Rick Perry 2007 sure is different from Rick Perry 2006, isn't he?

Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he will oppose efforts to repeal a law, which he signed six years ago, giving tuition breaks to illegal immigrants attending state universities.

"I'm for leaving the law like it is because I think it serves a good purpose," he said.


State legislators have filed at least four bills to repeal the measure, which grants lower, in-state tuition to the children of immigrants who have lived in Texas at least three years, have graduated from a Texas high school and plan to become citizens.

Opponents say it is unfair to give the financial break to illegal immigrants when many U.S. citizens who are non-Texas residents have to pay more to attend college here.

"The only way that you can be eligible for that in-state tuition is if you are in the process of getting your citizenship," Perry said.

"I think that's been highly overlooked in this debate."

However, under the law, students only have to promise that they will apply for citizenship.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, sponsor of one of the bills to repeal the law, said she disagrees with Perry.

"What we are doing is grossly unfair to people who are here legally," Riddle said. "It gets down to the question: Are we going to continue rewarding people who cut to the front of the line and are not here legally."

I look at it this way: They're kids. It wasn't their choice to cross the border, legally or otherwise. (Did your parents move when you were a kid? Mine did twice, and I don't recall having any say in the matter either time.) What's the point in treating them as if they did something wrong?

This is par for the course for ol' Pit Of Hell Riddle, but it's both nice and more than a little strange to see Rick Perry acting all enlightened. Greg has a similar reaction. All I can say is that it's too bad Perry didn't see fit to campaign in such a fashion. I'd say "maybe next time", but if he keeps this up I don't see how he makes it through a Republican primary, so I doubt there will be a next time.

One curious omission from this story is a reaction from the legislator who authored the bill in question. That was Rep. Rick Noriega, and I asked him to send me a statement about this. Here it is:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to the Chron article concerning HB 1403. I met with the Governor [Friday], and I thanked him for his support and his remarks.

Clearly the Governor recognizes that HB 1403 is good public policy for Texas. Since its passage in 2001, at least nine other states have followed Texas' lead on this issue and adopted similar statutes.

Congress will certainly have a version of the "Dream Act," (originally introduced by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah), as a component to any immigration reform. This means that the over 8,000 Texas students who have used this opportunity will be able to begin work immediately and offer their talents to this state.

Texans do not eat their seed corn. It is not a Texas value to deny children an opportunity for an education, a future to achieve their dreams. I am proud of the Governor's position, and the over 140 House Members, Republican and Democrat, who voted for HB 1403.

For Texas,

Rick Noriega

We'll see what happens from here.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 14, 2007 to That's our Lege