Undocumented students could pay out-of-state tuition costs if Senate Bill 1819 passes

EL PASO, TEXAS (TIP): ¬†On April 6 the border security subcommittee of the Senate’s Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee is scheduled to hear Senate Bill 1819, a piece of legislation that would repeal a 2001 law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities.

House Bill 1403, also known as the Texas Dream Act, passed in 2001 to extend in-state tuition and grant eligibility to non-citizen residents of the state.

But if the new Senate bill passes, it would abolish the in-state tuition provision for undocumented students and they would be forced to pay out-of-state tuition as a result.

The bill has received backing primarily from Republicans who argue that having undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition, encourages more undocumented youth to come to Texas.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also shown support for repealing the Texas Dream Act. When Patrick was running for Lt. Gov he had an adwhich said “he is the only candidate to oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.” A footnote in the ad also pointed out that Dan coauthored a floor amendment to SB 1581 in 2011 that would have abolished in-state tuition.

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But State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso said that many of these undocumented students are already in living in the state of Texas. He said in a phone interview with KFOX 14 that providing them an opportunity at an affordable education is the right thing to do.

“Over the last 13 years it’s benefited hundreds of students who are now productive members of our society,” Rodriguez said. “There is really no reason why this kind of bill should be having this priority in the Texas Legislature.

Data from the Center for Public Policy Priorities showed that in 2010 undocumented residents paid $1.6 billion and state and local taxes. The data also said that in part, these taxes helped support Texas institutions of higher education.

Pamela Ornelas is a sophomore at UTEP majoring in special education.

A native of Chihuahua City in Mexico, Ornelas is a non-citizen resident student who currently pays an in-state tuition of $4,000 a year.

“That’s kind of a big help from the university to me as a student,” Ornelas said.

But if Senate Bill 1819 passes, she said she could have to pay out-of-state tuition which is double or even triple what she is paying now.

“If it’s going to pass, I’m going to be at risk to have to go back and study in my home town,” Ornelas said. “The United States is supposed to accept everybody from everywhere, so why take us away.”

The border security committee was scheduled to hear the bill on Monday, March 30 but the hearing has since been rescheduled to Monday, April 6.

If Senate Bill 1819 were to pass, Rodriguez said it could take effect as early as Sept. 1.

(Source: KFox 14)


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