Texas was the first state to adopt a law allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates to attend public universities, adopting HB1403 in 2001.
The measure allows undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates if they graduated from high school or received a GED in Texas. They must have lived in the state for three years and sign an affidavit affirming that they are seeking legal residency.
About 11,000 Texas students used the provision from 2001 to 2006, though not all of them were undocumented immigrants, according to data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that the El Paso Times reported.
Since 2001, California, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington have adopted similar laws, according to the Education Commission of the States.
Some conservative Texas legislators, including state Reps. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, have filed legislation to repeal the 2001 law. They argue the law is unfair to legal U.S. citizens from other states who must pay higher out-of-state tuition rates at Texas public universities. It also requires Texas taxpayers to subsidize the higher education costs for unauthorized residents, they argue.
Proponents of the measure argue that it protects the investment Texas has already made in educating undocumented immigrant students. Many come to the U.S. through no choice of their own but because their parents illegally migrated with them in tow. It is unfair, proponents argue, to punish those students for their parents' decisions.
Bills that would repeal the Texas Dream Act have failed so far, and the law remains in effect.