Immigration Policy

The Texas DREAM Act: Forcing the Taxpayer to Reward Illegal Behavior


Is there a government prize for breaking the law in Texas?  The Texas DREAM Act forces the taxpayer to reward those who continue to break the law by illegally residing in the United States. Since being signed into law by Gov.  Rick Perry in 2001, the Texas DREAM Act has provided in-state tuition and need-based financial aid to illegal immigrants attending Texas’ public higher education institutions. And with the state spending over $7 mllion for the 2,156 Texas Grants awarded to illegal immigrants in 2010, the cost of these handouts add up fast.

Additionally, the Texas DREAM Act causes a misuse of taxpayer and state financial resources since the taxpayer is forced to subsidize the higher education of adults who cannot legally work in the United States.  Rewarding illegal immigrants with in-state tuition is unfair to out of state U.S. citizens and legal international students, who have to pay close to $20,000 more each year to attend 4-year universities.  The Texas DREAM Act is bad policy, and it should be repealed immediately.

It is a common misconception that public college tuition is subsidized to reward those who pay taxes.  If this was the case, why collect those taxes in the first place?  The point of subsidizing higher education at public institutions in the state is to train the future workforce of Texas.  A more knowledgeable and productive workforce will boost the economic output of the state and provide greater tax revenue.

In-state tuition makes higher education more attainable for the high-achieving students who will eventually makeup the state’s workforce.  Providing in-state tuition also retains high-achieving future workers by creating an incentive for students to stay in Texas to learn and work rather than moving out of state for college.  These factors build a strong case for in-state tuition for U.S. citizens, but since illegal immigrants can’t legally work in Texas, neither the state nor the taxpayer is benefiting from the financial resources spent on illegal immigrant higher education subsidies.

Most people do not realize the magnitude at which higher education is subsidized for illegal immigrants.  At Texas A&M, for example, 68 percent of undergraduate students who are illegal immigrants claim residency under the Texas DREAM Act received state grants for the 2010-2011 school year.  While this is outrageous enough, it is even more outrageous considering only 15 percent of legal Texas resident undergraduates received state grants for the 2010-2011 school year.  On average for the 2010-2011 academic year at Texas A&M, the Texas DREAM Act illegal immigrant student received $4,490 in state financial aid, while the legal Texas resident student only received $737 in state financial aid.  This means that illegal immigrants claiming Texas residency are receiving over 6 times more state aid per student than legal Texas residents are. State policy should not favor illegal immigrants over legal citizens, especially since illegal immigrants cannot legally work in the state or country.

The Texas DREAM Act doesn’t just reward criminal behavior; it also punishes those who follow the law.  Thousands of international students acquire visas each year so they can legally reside in the United States to attend college.  Instead of being praised for following the law, these students are handed a huge out-of-state tuition bill – the bill that most illegal immigrant international students do not have to pay.

The Texas DREAM Act is also unfair to out of state U.S. citizens who are paying thousands more each semester to attend college in Texas.  U.S. citizens should be the first priority of the state and federal governments.  The Texas DREAM Act is an inefficient use of tax dollars, an incentive for breaking the law, and a stepping-stone to amnesty.  In-state tuition and financial aid for illegal immigrants is bad public policy for Texas, and the law should be changed to end these practices.

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