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Texas DREAM Act Repeal Vote Delayed, As Supporters Continue Protests

DREAM_Protest0415.jpg
Sarah Montgomery for KUT
Supporters of the Texas Dream Act gather on the steps of the Capitol on April 15.

Today, the Senate won’t vote on a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students, known as the Texas DREAM Act. The bill from New Braunfels Sen. Donna Campbell seemed to have enough support for a floor vote yesterday, but the bill was taken off the chamber’s intent calendar today.

Still, the bill could be added to the upper chamber’s calendar for a vote before the legislative session ends, and many undocumented students currently attending state colleges are worried what might happen if lawmakers do repeal the in-state tuition law.

Irais Romero came to Texas from Mexico when she was five with her mom and her younger sister. She’s lived here ever since. Last year, she graduated high school in the top five percent of her class and is now a freshman at UT-Austin, where she's studying neuroscience.

“If it weren’t for the bill I wouldn’t be in college,” Romero says.

Out-of-state tuition would be too expensive for her mom to afford, she says. Right now, she’s paying for college with some scholarship money and financial aid. The bill’s current form grandfathers students enrolled right now who have a certain number of credits. But Romero worries how a possible repeal would affect people like her sister, who is still in high school.

“My sister is currently valedictorian of her class now, and if this bill is repealed she won’t have that opportunity to maybe go to college because of how much it would be,” she says. “Our family in honest truth does not have the money to do so.”

Last week, the bill made it out of the Senate committee on Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Subcommittee on Border Security.

Senate rules require 13 lawmakers to support the bill in order to make it to the floor for a vote. While an unofficial headcount has 12 senators opposing the measure, this morning the bill was taken off the chamber’s intent calendar – meaning the Senate won’t vote on the bill today, and that senators haven’t reached a consensus on the bill itself.

A recent analysis from the Texas Tribune found 71.6 percent of the nearly 25,000 undocumented students in Texas pay in-state tuition to community colleges, while 28.3 percent attend four-year universities.