Wednesday, May 09, 2007

HB 159: Texas At Its Worst

When they brought HB 159 onto the floor of the Texas House today, civility ran for the fire escape. You would think that some members of the Republican Caucus knew that a sound amplification system has been installed in the House for quite some time now. But apparently, no, and it was necessary for supporters of HB 159 to shout at the top of their lungs that HB 159 was not a racist bill.

I beg to differ, as do all good Democrats.

HB 159’s sole purpose is to remove students, sons and daughters of illegal immigrants, from Texas’ public higher education institutions by making it impossible for them to pay tuition. It is a complete rescinding of Rick Noriega’s HB 1403, a bill passed into law in 2001 that made it possible for hundreds if not thousands of children of illegal immigrants to attend college or university without the forbidding additional charges of out-of-state tuition payments.

It is an anti-illegal immigrant bill. And since here in Texas, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, it is a bill whose sights are brought to bear directly at the Hispanic community.

Let’s get one thing straight about what out-of-state tuition is about. Those who live out of state but want to attend Texas state-supported colleges and universities have not been paying taxes in Texas. Their tax money has gone to support the higher institutions of their home state. So charging out-of-state tuition to a non-Texas resident is fair and proper.

But this is not what we’re talking about here in terms of the children of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants work in Texas and buy goods and services in Texas. They pay taxes in Texas. Taxes that go to support state colleges and universities.

Sponsors of HB 159 claim that the current law encourages illegal immigration, rewards illegal immigration. Since when do children of illegal immigrants have a say in where they are to live? Their parents made the decision to cross the border with no immigration documents. The sins of the parents should not be made the sins of their children.

But that is exactly what is happening. Children of immigrants are being punished for being their parent’s offspring. What is fair about that? Why are there good Christians in the House seeking to punish the innocent? Must these innocent children be educationally crucified?

It is a racist bill on it’s face and a shameful one. Rick Noriega’s HB 1403 was all about what is good about Texas, and HB 159 is all about what is disgraceful.

Let me tell you this is such a hot-button issue with conservatives in the legislature that they flat out don’t want to listen to argument on this, nor do they care about the hundreds of success stories that resulted from Noriega’s good bill. What you don’t see in the news or on the House website unless you look at the April 19th archived State Affairs Committee streaming video is how conservatives turned a deaf ear to these many success stories. I admit it, the list of witnesses who spoke to that committee meeting on that date in opposition to HB 159 was a long and onerous list. But there were many success stories related to the committee that evening. But if you look at the committee panel as the meeting progressed, you see fewer and fewer Members in their places. Conservative Members bolted the meeting, leaving these citizen witnesses to speak to a nearly empty panel of sympathetic Democrats.

Back to the present day and the House floor, a point of order was raised and the discussion on HB 159 was postponed until later this evening.

I guess they all had to catch their breath.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your blog, but I just though I'd let ou know that Noriega's 2001 bill is HB 1403, not 1405.

Hal said...

Yeah I saw that the other day myself and have been too lazy to go in and change it.