Dewhurst splits with Perry on in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reeling after a rough debate in Orlando, Fla., and is still taking heat for defending the law he signed 10 years ago, granting in-state tuition at Texas’ public universities to children of undocumented immigrants.
Today, Texas’ Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst piled onto the criticism of the 2001 law in an interview with Dallas TV station WFAA:
“If we’re not going to give fellow Americans who live in Louisiana or Oklahoma or New Mexico the ability to come into Texas and have in-state tuition and save, then is it fair to give that break to people who are not citizens here?” he said. “So, I would not have signed that law.”
WFAA’s Brad Watson points out that Dewhurst was elected in 2002, a year after Texas passed the bill authored by former state Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston), who left the Texas Legislature to mount an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate.
Dewhurst is in a big race of his own now — the front-runner in a field vying to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison — and breaking with Perry over the in-state tuition law can only help him among a tea party movement that’s made him something of a punching bag so far — for passing up appearances at senate candidate forums, and for failing to push through tighter immigration measures in this year’s legislative session.
The law, a precursor to the proposed federal Dream Act, has met a slew of challenges in Texas over the last year, including a lawsuit in Houston and a resolution from the Texas A&M University student senate — as the Texas Independent reported in 2010 — and bills in the Texas Legislature to roll back the 2001 law.
As the Austin American Statesman’s Jason Embry points out this morning, Dewhurst may not be supporting the law today, but if he was interested in taking a strong stand against it last session, he sure had the chance:
It’s worth noting that Sen. Brian Birdwell filed a bill to repeal that in-state tuition law just this year in the Senate, where Dewhurst is the presiding office. The bill, Senate Bill 1631, was referred to the Higher Education Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini. It was heard but never emerged from that committee.