College students deserve to learn, not fear deportation

Ann Beeson

I have had the good fortune to engage in public policy advocacy alongside college students who care deeply about the future of our state. These young people are some of the smartest and most dedicated advocates I’ve known. They often travel long distances across the state and stay up all night so they can testify at the Capitol and finish their homework. Many are the first in their families to go to college. They are proud of their heritage, committed to their communities, and determined to solve entrenched problems. In other words, they are just the kind of hardworking leaders Texas needs. Some of these students happen to be undocumented; mostly they came to the United States as young children.

This Wednesday, the House will vote on SB 4, which – among other negative consequences for immigrant families – threatens the future of these remarkable college students by requiring campus police to enforce federal immigration law. This unwise bill stands in stark contrast to the sensible Texas Dream Act, passed in 2001 with overwhelming bipartisan support, which enables immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges. Immigrant students who attend Texas colleges because of the Texas Dream Act are already contributing to the Texas economy — they paid $58.3 million in tuition and fees at Texas colleges in 2015.

Now, SB 4 threatens these promising students with the fear of deportation on college campuses. This climate of fear is antithetical to learning and is likely to lead many students to leave school for fear of deportation, depriving our state of their many talents.

We call on elected leaders to vote no on SB 4, and to support an amendment that would remove campus police from the bill. Instead of frightening college students and families, let’s return to our strong tradition of embracing immigrant culture and leading the nation with common-sense policies that provide a pathway to opportunity for young people of all backgrounds.

Dreamers rally

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