In Texas alone, more than 14,000 students benefit from in-state residency. Undocumented students contribute over $9 million out-of-pocket in educational costs a year, a stream of funding that would abruptly turn into a trickle if we got rid of in-state tuition. More importantly, local Dream Acts have been proven to raise the high school graduation rates of immigrant communities wherever they are enacted. Primary education is a constitutional right regardless of immigration status and it makes no financial or political sense to force a child to squash their dreams after high school graduation.
While Republican presidential hopefuls aim to garner votes by asking who can be tougher on immigrants, Perry has taken the rightful stand to support education and opportunity for generations of students who have had no control over their lives. Despite supporting coercive community policing and legislation that would end sanctuary cities, Perry understands the importance of the immigrants to this country: the so-called Texas Miracle Economy he has been banking on is actually the result of low-wage jobs going to immigrants (four out of every ten to an undocumented person). Texas has been, for once, on the progressive end of things in an era where states like Alabama are asking elementary school students to turn over their papers and banning undocumented students from even attending colleges. After Perry’s recent remarks, state politicians in Texas pledged to overturn HB 1403 in 2013.
To them, Dreamers around the state have only one thing to say: we’re ready. We successfully preserved the law after an onslaught of dozens of xenophobic bills during the 2011 Session and are inching towards the national Dream Act. Allowing children to go to school is never a crime or a burden-- it is an obligation of every person in society if they want to see their communities flourish. Educational access is also not the last step of the process, as many HB 1403 students graduate with pharmacy and engineering degrees, training in cosmetology and aviation mechanics, only to be denied a licence to work. Politicians berating Perry for his ‘soft’ stance on immigrants are only a testament to the warped logic of racism and xenophobia: if denying people an education is your rallying cry, you might want to rethink your politics.