Texas Republicans at odds over immigrant tuition law


House Speaker Joe Straus said he sees no need to change a 15-year-old state law that allows some unauthorized immigrants to receive in-state tuition at the state’s public universities, drawing another contrast with the more conservative leadership of the state Senate.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said he opposes the law that allows Texas high school graduates living in the U.S. illegally to qualify for lower in-state tuition.

Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, also has signaled he’s not interested in pushing a school voucher program or a transgender bathroom bill favored by Patrick, who presides over the Senate.

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The contrasting approaches to the three hot button issues sets up a struggle between House and Senate leaders as lawmakers prepare to convene in Austin next week.

“My personal position is that the law, as it is, is perfectly acceptable,” Straus told the San Antonio Express-News of the immigrant tuition law that was signed by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2001.

“There’s no debate at all that we need more and better-skilled people in our workforce,” Straus said in an interview with his hometown newspaper. “I see no benefit to the state, or to the state’s future, by limiting the success of people who’ve played by the rules and have qualified for higher education and who can become successful citizens of the state of Texas and productive in our economy.”

Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters in December that he thinks the program is flawed, repeating comments he made about the law during the last legislative session.



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