AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fredericksburg Republican Kyle Biedermann filed a bill Wednesday to end in-state tuition for Texas students who came to the state illegally. For the past several session, conservative lawmakers have pushed similar efforts and have always come up short after backlash from the Texas business community and Democrats.
Rep. Biedermann hopes the 2019 legislative session will be different and lawmakers pass his House Bill 413.
“We’re educating them with K-12 right now. And they can be educated in college. Why should we give them a deduction or a subsidy at taxpayer expense when other Texans could use the funds also to get educated,” Rep. Biedermann told KXAN.
The Texas Dream Act was passed by lawmakers and signed by then-Governor Rick Perry in 2001.
To receive in-state tuition, they’re required to live in Texas for three years, seek legal status, and are a graduate of high school or earned a GED.
“I’m not surprised. They’ve been doing it over and over again,” said Daniela Rojas who’s a senior at UT Austin.
Rojas remembers when she was applying for colleges four years ago, one of the previous attempts at the repeal was unfolding.
“Already applying to college as an undocumented student is very terrifying,” she said. “I’m also first generation, so I don’t have anyone who knows the ropes. And then knowing that they were filling this bill to repeal in-state tuition added a lot more uncertainty to what my future would be like, if I was even going to go to college.”
Since that attempt failed, Rojas has been able to attend UT paying the lower in-state rate.
“My family made the sacrifice of coming to this country just so I could have a better education and future that they didn’t have,” she said. “So to me, it’s important not to just better myself, but to also provide back to the community I’ve grown up in. I’ve been living here for more than half of my life now, so this is a community that I want to contribute to.”
Governor Greg Abbott has previously said he would not veto a repeal the Texas Dream Act. At a KXAN sponsored debate, he said lawmakers who passed it had a “noble cause” but he thinks the law currently is flawed.
“The law that passed said that these students who received in-state tuition had to demonstrate that they were on a pathway toward achieving legal status. However, there is no apparatus in the law to make sure that, in fact, is being done. Hence, the law as structured is flawed, and it has to be fixed,” said Gov. Abbott.
According to state documents from past legislative sessions, there are fewer than 25,000 students in Texas receiving in-state tuition because of the Dream Act.
“We deserve education, the right to education, and the right to have affordable education, just as anybody else should, doesn’t matter what the legal status should be,” Rojas said.