Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's the right thing

As the bumper sticker says: "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could." The end of World War II trapped my parents in upstate New York where my dad, a chaplain's assistant, moved the paperwork to separate other veterans from the armed service. While both my brothers enjoy native son status, I'm a Yankee interloper, but it isn't my fault--my mother, who couldn't wait in Texas any longer and joined my dad outside Rome, New York, gave birth to me in a military hospital on base. Shortly thereafter, we were Texas bound, and I've never called anywhere else home.

I'm thinking about the historical context of my birth because the 84th regular session of the Texas Legislature is thinking about repealing the Texas D.R.E.A.M. Act, a law that permits children whose parents brought them into Texas illegally--mostly Mexican children, but not all--and who graduate from a Texas high school and desire to become US citizens may attend Texas public colleges and universities for in-state tuition. It's a fair law, in my opinion, for grown children who grew up in Texas and plan to live, work, and raise families here--unless they are forced out.

It seems to me the Legislature is being short-sighted in wanting to repeal the law.

My generation is nearing retirement at record rates. Every single day 10,000 additional citizens turn 65 and will continue to do so for the next 6,935 days (19 years)! None of them are having babies. But they are coming to Texas for the warm climate, affordable housing, and low taxes.  It makes good sense to educate the young adults who are here, giving them the workforce skills and encouragement to build a better Texas. Otherwise, I fear we will lack the labor force to meet the needs of an aging population.

We could argue that this is in the best interest and welfare of "undocumented residents," or interlopers, if you will. But let's be pragmatic: the real deal-sealer is that it is in our self-interest to educate the younger generation within our state lines.

And, for the record, let's be clear: they're not getting  free college education--they're just getting a price break.