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Texas, DACA, Dreamers, and the Wall

For obvious reasons, Texas is home to many so-called Dreamers, who came to the U.S. illegally as children—a lot of whom are college graduates now, including public school teachers, as well as current students at our higher education institutions.

President Trump has officially ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program instituted by the previous administration, urging Congress to pass new legislation to deal with the issue. If nothing happens, many of our students may be subject to deportation.

The president has declared a border wall to be a necessary condition for him to sign any new law protecting the Dreamers. As you know, the wall was one of his most assertive campaign promises, and Mr. Trump carried the Texas vote handily in 2016.

But it also happens that Texas is a pioneer in allowing resident undocumented individuals to attend college, with a law known as the Texas Dream Act, signed by then-Gov. Rick Perry in 2001. The statute extended in-state tuition to students who have spent at least three years in a Texas high school and intend to pursue U.S. citizenship, among other provisions.

According to media reports, a new U.S. immigration law will require the votes of at least some Democrats, most of whom have expressed opposition to a wall and support for the Dreamers. Various higher education institutions have also urged that DACA status remain for their students.

One avenue of reported compromise involves the definition of “wall.” The Texas border already has abundant fencing and enhanced security measures, including drone patrols, which could be beefed up. Politically, Republicans who face challengers in the forthcoming March primary elections might be in jeopardy if they vote for an immigration law that appears squishy on the wall and on the status of undocumented residents. People who feel strongly on this issue are more likely to vote in a primary, where turnout is very low historically. Moderate voices are hard to find in the primaries of both parties.

Lisa Falkenburg, in the Houston Chronicle, writes an opinion piece that may be useful for background. Her article focuses on the public schools, but also gets into aspects of this issue that can affect all of us.

If you wish to communicate your view to members of Congress, here is a helpful link to find out “Who Represents Me?”

 

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