At an event today at the University of Texas Austin campus, Texas Governor Rick Perry reaffirmed his support of allowing illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities, while U.S. citizens from other states continue to pay higher out-of-state tuition rates. Perry made his remarks in a “One-on-One Conversation” with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival, an annual event organized by the online media outlet. Breitbart Texas made several queries to Governor Perry’s press office for comment, but as of press time, had not received a reply.
A UT student asked Perry a question inspired by a Tribune Festival panel from the previous day titled “What to do with DREAMers,” referring to the children who were brought here by their parents without legal immigration status and want to attend public state universities. The student mentioned that Perry had signed a law granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and asked if he was still in support of that law, and also asked why Republicans had moved away from supporting this issue.
The law in question, HB 1403, was signed into law by Perry on June 16, 2001 and allows undocumented immigrant students who have lived in Texas at least three years and have a Texas high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for in-state tuition if they sign an affidavit that they intend to apply for permanent residency status as soon as they can.
As Smith reminded Perry, his support of the law was a contentious issue in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum being among those who attacked him for it. At a debate in Orlando in September 2011, Perry hit back at the law’s detractors, infamously saying, “if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children because they will become a drag on our society…This was a state issue. Texas voted on it. And I still support it today.” The audience booed Perry in response.
This video clip is of Rick Perry defending in-state tuition for illegal aliens during the 2011 presidential campaign.