Friday, September 23, 2011



Repubican candidates Romney, Bachman and members of the Tea Party movement have roasted Texas and Governor Perry for the practice in Texas of allowing the children of illegal immigrants who have attended three years of high school in Texas and who commit to becoming US citizens to enjoy the same tuition rates (not subsidies) at Texas public institutions of higher learning that legal Texas residents pay.  But the facts are that the practice is paying off in big dividends for Texas and the United States.  Here is an article from the San Antonio paper explaining:


A Texas DREAM Act success story
By Patricia Kilday Hart/
Updated 12:02 a.m., Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rosendo Ticas grabbed only a half-hour's sleep Wednesday morning after a late shift working as an airline mechanic. He was too excited to sleep anyway, knowing he was finally taking the oath of U.S. citizenship, a privilege he's been seeking since he arrived in Houston from war-torn El Salvador at age 14.

Ticas first requested political asylum in 1986, but possessed enough determination to survive bureaucratic limbo for a quarter-century. Speaking by telephone Thursday, his voice was triumphant. He has a terrific job with Continental Airlines. He owns his own home and a rent house. He registered to vote after the ceremony.

“I feel great,” he said.

His journey has been long and bumpy, but there have been transcendent turning points. Take, for example, the day Ticas sought the help of then-state Rep. Rick Noriega when he couldn't afford the tuition charged international students at Houston Community College.

That meeting, in 2000, set into motion a landmark public policy that Gov. Rick Perry defended in Monday night's Republican presidential debate. The so-called Texas DREAM Act, which Perry signed in 2001, gives in-state college tuition to undocumented students if they have spent at least three years in a Texas high school and intend to pursue citizenship.

Perry stalwartly defended the law, which he framed as a states' rights issue: “If you've been in the state of Texas for three years, and are working toward citizenship, you pay in-state tuition. It doesn't matter what the sound of your last name is. That's the American way.”

As boos welled up from the uber-conservative tea party audience, Perry stood firm. The policy was working well in Texas by encouraging children brought to the U.S. by their parents to become “contributing members of our society, rather than be on the dole.”

He's right, and Ticas is Exhibit A.

After attending high school in Houston, Ticas started a lawn-mowing business, but quickly decided he wanted more. Houston Community College offered a path to an aviation mechanic's license, but he couldn't afford international tuition rates. So Ticas called Noriega, who conducted a survey in his Houston district and discovered “there were hundreds of Rosendo Ticases out there” — smart kids, brought illegally into the U.S., who wanted an education that had been priced out of reach.

“It was a no-brainer,” Noriega now says of HB 1403, which he introduced in the Legislature in 2001.

“We pulled together as a state and spoke with a loud voice for a public policy that has reaped incredible benefits to our state.” With the backing of powerful business groups, the proposal passed “with about two dissenting votes.”

State officials say that in 2010, 16,476 students took advantage of HB 1403, about 12,000 at the community college level. The law has withstood court challenges, and academic studies tracking students in its early years have demonstrated the tuition break encourages college enrollment — and graduation.

Rice University professor Steve Murdock, who has served as both Texas state demographer and head of the U.S. Census Bureau, has a message for those concerned about the cost of providing education and other services to undocumented workers: “Education pays. You see that very clearly in any data. If they are better educated they will make more money. If people have more money, they spend more money. They generate more sales tax. They generate more expenditures for the private sector.”
Ticas proudly mentioned he took his oath Sept. 14 — the anniversary of the day Francis Scott Key penned “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1812.

“A coincidence!” he marveled. “It's a dream come true.”

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