AUSTIN, Texas — Monday was the first day which Texas legislators could file bills for consideration during the 2015 Legislative Session, and as per tradition, some of the first bills filed seem destined to be among the most buzzworthy. One such bill is HB 209, filed by Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), which would revoke the 2001 law that granted in-state tuition at Texas universities to illegal immigrant students by including in the definition of “resident” for tuition purposes those who had lived in Texas at least three years and had a Texas high school diploma or GED equivalent, provided that they sign an affidavit that they intend to apply for permanent residency status as soon as they could.
While the original law passed in 2001 by an overwhelming majority — only four total dissenting votes in both chambers of the Legislature — support for the law plummeted in the years that followed, as the requirement that the students apply for permanent residency proved impracticable to enforce and the law became viewed as one of the “magnets” attracting illegal immigrants to Texas. Governor Rick Perry has been unwavering in his support for the law, despite being the target of sharp criticism from his Republican primary opponents during the 2012 Presidential race and, more recently, from conservatives concerned about the border crisis.
Stickland’s bill simply deletes the language that the 2001 bill added to Section 54.052 of the Texas Education Code, returning the definition of “resident” to American citizens who have established and maintained a domicile in Texas for at least a year. In a phone interview with Breitbart Texas on Monday afternoon, Stickland said that HB 209 was the result of “a campaign promise that I made over a year ago, that I would file this bill on day one.”
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) November 10, 2014
“I just got done with about a year and a half of campaigning and one of the messages I heard over and over was that people were concerned about illegal immigration and the insecure border,” said Stickland, adding that the key was “stopping all the magnets and incentives that are bringing [illegal immigrants] to Texas…We know we need to secure the border, [and] this is the other half of the solution.”
Stickland told Breitbart Texas that the issue was one that “sticks out like a sore thumb” for him, and “the idea that we would treat someone who is here illegally better than someone who is here from Oklahoma is atrocious.” The feedback he heard from his constituents — even Hispanics — on the campaign trail was that they wanted to “take care of Texans first” and “end these incentives to come over here and break the law.”
The bill filing period for the 84th Legislative Session ends on March 13, 2015. After the session kicks off in January, the bill will go through a first reading on the floor of the House, and then be assigned to the Calendars Committee to await a committee assignment.
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