2012 Presidential Election
9:15 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Dewhurst Breaks From Perry's Position on Immigrant In-State Tuition

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst is putting distance between himself and Governor Rick Perry over in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants in Texas. He said this in a TV news interview with Dallas’ WFAA.

"If we're not going to give fellow Americans who live in Louisiana or Oklahoma or New Mexico the ability to come into Texas and have in-state tuition and save, then is it fair to give that break to people who are not citizens here?" Dewhurst told WFAA said. "I would not have signed that law."

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is running for the Republican nomination to take the U.S. Senate seat that Kay Bailey Hutchison currently occupies, but is retiring.

In his blog "First Reading" Jason Embry, of the Austin American-Statesman points out that the Lt. Governor had the opportunity to foster change to the law a couple of times in his leadership role over the Texas Senate.

It’s worth noting that Sen. Brian Birdwell filed a bill to repeal that in-state tuition law just this year in the Senate, where Dewhurst is the presiding office. The bill, Senate Bill 1631, was referred to the Higher Education Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini. It was heard but never emerged from that committee.

Governor Rick Perry has taken heat on the campaign trail and in debates over in-state tuition for immigrants. He has defended the law by saying children who had no choice in coming to the U.S. should also have the opportunity to be educated.

KUT’s Ben Philpott has reported that Gov. Perry’s stance on immigration has become a fine line the Governor has had to walk.

“For a Republican, Gov. Perry has what one may call a moderate position on immigration,” Mark Jones told KUT News. Jones is chair of the Political Science Department at Rice University.

Perry has been tough on immigration, in some cases. He signed a law this year requiring voters to show ID at the polls – a measure some say will negatively impact minority voters. He pushed for a system of surveillance cameras along the border to catch people crossing illegally. And he opposes amnesty.

“The governor has always tried to keep his base happy, without alienating those Hispanic voters who would vote for him in the Republican Party generally, as long as they don’t see the party as being overtly racist or anti-Hispanic,” Jones said.