George P. Bush, Jeb Bush’s son and Republican candidate for Texas land commissioner, said that in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is just a “nominal” cost to taxpayers.
Speaking at The Texas Tribune Festival on Friday evening, Bush said that until someone can present a “sensible alternative” to the Texas’s version of DREAM Act, he would support the the law that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed in 2001.
Bush said in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is just “a nominal cost from an economic perspective” for the state of Texas.
Bush also suggested that in-state tuition for illegal immigrants should be indexed. For example, illegal immigrants who start in kindergarten will receive 100 percent coverage while those who start from the 5th grade will get 50 percent of their benefits taken from taxpayers. Illegal immigrants who have lived in Texas for at least three years and have a high school diploma qualify for in-state tuition under the 2001 law Perry signed.
“I don’t have the magic wand,” Bush said, noting that the issue is “terribly complicated.”
Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith questioned Bush and noted that after Bush’s father, Jeb, said that illegal immigration was an “act of love,” he was “walloped by people in his own party.” He pointed out that conservatives bashed his uncle, George W. Bush, when he worked with Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) on comprehensive amnesty legislation. Smith added that Rick Perry’s presidential hopes got crushed when he said during a debate in Florida that those who oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants did not have “a heart.” Perry also defended in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at the same event on Sunday.
Bush, who also said Texas needed more guest-worker visas for the high-tech industry in addition to the construction and agriculture sectors even though studies have shown there is a surplus of American workers in those industries, said he is going to stay out of the 2016 GOP presidential primary–even if his father decides to run. Neither Bush nor Perry took into account the magnet effect of giving in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
Though in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at this time costs the state millions, one study estimated that it costs Texas $7.4 billion annually to educate all of the illegal aliens in public schools and more than $8 billion if “supplemental English instruction” costs are considered.