College students challenge immigrant tuition increase

Allison Harris

About 100 college students from across the state protested anti-illegal immigration legislation and resolutions at Texas A&M University on Friday.

Texas DREAM Act Alliance, a statewide organization that supported a federal bill that would have granted amnesty for undocumented students who completed four years of college, organized the rally. The students spoke out against state bills and Texas A&M resolutions which seek to repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Current law states that students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents can pay in-state tuition at UT if they graduate from a Texas high school they attended for three years. More than 550 UT students pay in-state tuition under this provision, said Deana Williams, assistant director of admissions.

UT government sophomore Adrian Reyna — a member of University Leadership Initiative, a coalition of undocumented students and allies — spoke at the rally about the challenges of being undocumented.

“People belittle you for who you are, and you don’t have the same kind of liberties,” he said. “We believe that it’s better to have an educated population in Texas.”

The rally was part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the issues undocumented students face, said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of Fielhouston, a nonprofit organization that hopes to improve the lives of undocumented immigrants.

“These kids are kids that have been here a very young age, who have studied here and who speak perfect English,” Espinosa said. “They deserve the right to a higher education.”