It is no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I am not a fan of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
I dislike his policies, his approach, his style and his mean streak.
However, when it comes to one key issue — whether to grant in-state tuition privileges to Texans who were brought here illegally by their parents — he is spot on. He favors granting those privileges to those who want to attend Texas’s many fine public colleges and universities.
Many in his Republican Party, though, do not. They oppose granting individuals who’ve grown up as Texans and who are here only because they were forced to come here by their parents those privileges.
It’s going to become a flashpoint on a couple of levels.
First, Republicans running for office in Texas don’t want to alienate the far-right wing of the party’s base, which is where the opposition is coming from. Even though Perry isn’t on the ballot this year, his support of in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants well could become a key issue among candidates running for statewide office or the Legislature.
Second is Perry’s own political future. He is sounding and acting like someone who wants to run for president in 2016. He tried it in 2012 and fell flat on his face. Perry reportedly is in the midst of an extreme political makeover to create a new brand for himself.
Here’s how the Texas Tribune portrays the political split in Texas on this issue:
“Texans’ attitudes on in-state tuition are closely divided, though polarized along party lines. In the February 2014 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 40 percent of registered voters said that illegal immigrants who graduated from a public high school in Texas and lived in Texas for at least a year should pay the lower in-state tuition; 47 percent thought they should pay the out-of-state rate. A slight majority of Democrats, 55 percent, opted for in-state tuition while a majority of Republicans, 61 percent, opted for out-of-state tuition. Maybe not surprisingly, 54 percent of Anglos supported out-of-state tuition, compared with only 34 percent supporting in-state tuition. Hispanics displayed the opposite attitude, with 31 percent supporting out-of-state rates and 51 percent supporting in-state rates.”
If Perry runs for president in two years, will the hard-liners in his party beat him bloody over what I believe is a common-sense, compassionate view of how to assimilate immigrants into Texas society?
I see no problem with granting these privileges to young Texans who know nothing other than life in the Lone Star State. Many — if not most — of them have assimilated already. They sound like Americans. They act like Americans. They have allegiance to this country and this state. Why not let them continue their education at a price they can afford?
Perry has taken the correct course on this issue. I hope he has the courage to stick with it if he enters the ’16 presidential race and starts taking body blows from those who disagree.