Above: University of Texas-Pan American student Nahiely Garcia is consoled as she speaks at a rally in support of the Texas DREAM Act.
On the second day of the 84th Texas Legislature, an alliance of students, Hispanic advocates and business leaders assembled on the south steps of the Capitol to announce their commitment to the Texas DREAM Act.
The act, passed in 2001, allows undocumented students who graduate from Texas high schools and who have been in the state at least three years to pay in-state tuition at community colleges and public universities.
Incoming Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has vowed to repeal the act, and state Reps. Mark Keogh (R-The Woodlands) and Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) have filed bills—HB 360 and HB 209 respectively—to do just that.
Advocates claim that the repeal of the Texas DREAM Act may have disastrous consequences.
“If Texas goes the wrong way on this issue, these dreamers will be virtually denied an education, said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business
There are some 16,000 so-called dreamers—undocumented college students paying in-state tuition.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said the DREAM Act enables hard-working young people to graduate from college, obtain jobs and contribute to their communities and the state’s economy.
“Instead of being on defense, ladies and gentlemen, I’m going on offense,” Anchia said. “I’ll be filing a concurrent resolution to confirm and support the Texas DREAM Act.”
Eduardo Maldonado, a 21-year-old University of North Texas psychology major, was one of the dozens of dreamers at the rally.
“I’ve been here 17 years, and I consider myself American and Texan. I grew up here. This is who I am,” Maldonado told the Observer. “I deserve the chance to attend college.”
The rally came a day after another group of national and state Hispanic advocacy organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Hispanics Organized for Political Education (Texas HOPE), held a gathering on the south steps of the Capitol.
“The DREAM Act is an amazing example of what’s right about Texas Education,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin. “It is morally criminal to take it away.”