Tuesday, May 08, 2007

HB 159: Leo Berman's (and Tom Craddick's) Revenge


Damn! I guess Rep. Leo Berman's screed after HB 13 about how the Texas House didn't do enough to harm immigrants and their children this session (who are causing leprosy and plague, he thinks) must have resonated with House Speaker Tom Craddick, since he's placed HB 159 - which would disallow immigrant kids who spent at least three years and graduated from Texas high schools from receiving in-state tuition - on Wednesday's Major State calendar. That means it must be debated before everyone else's bills on the list.

One imagines Speaker Tom Craddick's elevation of this bill to such lofty status may have been less a statement of policy - after all, Craddick actually voted for HB 1403 in 2001 and it was signed by Gov. Rick Perry - but instead a shrewd counterattack on Rep. Rick Noriega, who carried HB 1403 in the 77th Legislature. He just got back from National Guard duty on the Texas-Mexico border in time for session, but along with Rep. Farrar and several others he helped lead the recent uprising to rein in the Governor's homeland security legislation. That affrontery, apparently, earns the Lieutenant Colonel a parliamentary back hand.

In another sense, though, the move spites House members generally, who as Harvey Kronberg recently pointed out have seized power in recent weeks from the Speaker in nearly unprecedented ways. Many members oppose HB 159, it will take a lot of time to debate, and every minute they talk about it more bills die.

I flat out don't like using young people's education as part of this kind of political gamesmanship. I know several kids who attended UT Austin under these statutory provisions, and they're some of the smartest, most impressive young people I know. HB 1403 required that kids receiving in-state tuition be pursuing legal citizenship, and that's been the case with the 1403 kids I've known - a couple of them entered school as immigrants and left as US citizens.

In every instance among 1403 youth I've met, their parents made the decision to bring them to the United States, typically at an early age. These kids live here, their families live here, they grew up hanging out at the mall, they speak English as well as I do (without the hick East Texas accent), and they're not going anywhere.

The only important question: Whether Texas wants to invest in human capital or squander it? Do we want smart kids to go uneducated? Surely the answer is "no."

The House must reject this bill. Don't play politics with young people's education.

Bill opponents should avoid amending the bill at all, IMO - it's a bad idea and expresses only bad intentions. They should let Mr. Zedler lay out his bill, debate the sucker with no amendments, then beat it up on the floor and decisively vote it down.


Dylan Connell said...

An illegal is anyone who enters the
country illegally or overstays their visa. They do not have a path to citizenship. The only path to citizenship would be through fraud. This is one of those laws that legally can not work unless there is a new amnesty.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not sure what you mean, Dylan. This bill would have REPEALED a law that has been in effect and working well since 2001.

I2amUSA said...

Immigrants shouldn’t get persecuted for working after all they are taking jobs that Americans don’t want. Their kids are denied an education indirectly by making it more expensive, yet others are attending university by the “top 10% rule” where standards in different H.S. vary. Equal opportunity should also be enforced!! The state tuition would be a beneficial for the students, but just because they are immigrants it doesn’t mean they are not American.