Month: October 2011

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  The Texas DREAM Act is bad policy, and it should be repealed immediately.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...

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Documented or Not, They’re Texans

  In the September 22, 2011 Fox News-Google GOP Primary Debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry stated, “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.” His defense of the current Texas law that allows undocumented students to receive in-state tuition stands out amongst a slate of Republican nominees eager to demonstrate their anti-immigrant bona fides. So, what does Texas law actually say?  Section 54.052 of the Texas Education Code states that an individual qualifies for in-state tuition if he or she: 1) has lived in Texas for three years before graduating or receiving a GED from a Texas high school, and 2) has also lived in the state for a year prior to enrollment in college. In 2001, the law authored by Rep. Rick Noriega passed easily, with 157 legislators supporting the measure and only five members of the Texas Legislature voting against it. Amid the controversy over illegal immigration, the issue of undocumented children and their access to college has received increasing attention from policymakers across the nation.  This year alone, both Illinois and California passed legislation granting access to in-state tuition for undocumented state residents ...

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Our Broken (Values) System

  “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.” –          Ronald Reagan, 1984 debate with Walter Mondale Yes, you read that correctly: Ronald Reagan, the father of modern conservatism, in support of the A-word.  Conservative champions of our day certainly deviate from this position, as displayed by the staggering rhetorical heights reached during the Republican presidential nomination race in 2011, including talk of an electric fence to control the border. In today’s current climate, not only has “amnesty” become a bad word, but even the supposedly low-hanging fruit of compromise – granting in-state tuition to undocumented students – has proven controversial. Providing these students a path to citizenship through higher education or military service? So far, a dream deferred. Dedicated to promoting their vision of conservative ideology, the Texas A&M Aggie Conservatives student group has recently called for a special legislative session in Texas to repeal in-state tuition for the undocumented. Gov. Rick Perry has repeatedly made statements while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination that he is firm on the Texas policy but opposed to any federal legislation that would allow a path to citizenship. How can we make sense of this spectrum? Our immigration policy has become so politically polarizing because it is filled with contradictions of some of our most cherished traditions and values. We’ve...

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Cuts to Aid Are Cuts to Security

  Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was fond of saying that the Department of Defense has “more people in military bands than (the State Department has) in the Foreign Service.” His observation reveals a discomfiting inequality in national priorities which has been thrown into sharp relief by battles over the upcoming budget. Far from improving the situation, proposals from both chambers of Congress include substantial cuts to foreign aid. These cuts, totaling $12 billion in the House version, come on the heels of $8 billion in cuts to the State Department budget in April as part of a deal to keep the government financed. If adopted, the cuts would severely undermine national security while making only minor changes to the deficit. If any should doubt the importance of foreign aid to national security, they need look no farther than Afghanistan for their proof. Much has been said of the covert military assistance given to the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, later forming the core of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Less has been said about what was not given: foreign aid and development assistance to rebuild the war-torn country. The fighters, newly armed and trained but unaware of US involvement, returned home to lives and villages largely without prospects. Through aid projects the United States could have brought stability to Afghanistan. Instead we turned our backs, and 20 years later we are...

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Build Trade Relations with China, Not Trade Barriers

  History cannot help us see the future, but it can help us avoid the mistakes of the past. The Senate passed, and the majority of the House would support, legislation that will penalize China for keeping its currency undervalued and enable trade tariffs, but risks ill will and a trade war with China. This is a mistake. We should not be in the scape-goating business, but should take care of our own affairs. The United States will grow and add jobs as we adopt policies and pass legislation that support our economy. Imprudent protectionist measures move us in the wrong direction. The relevant history lesson is the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which contributed to the length and severity of the Great Depression. Putting up trade barriers and risking a trade war with China is fraught with danger in our weak global economy. The global engines of economic growth are the United States, Europe and Asia, which is led by China. In 2010 the United States imported over $360 billion of goods from China. We in turn exported over $90 billion of goods to China, our third largest export market and one that continues to grow as China’s economy expands. An indication of the size of the U.S. market and its importance to U.S. companies – GM now sells as many cars in China as it does in...

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