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DREAM Act is more than politics

December 9, 2010

With the DREAM Act pulled from consideration today by Democrats in the U.S. Senate, chances for passage this session look slim.

Speaking for the moral side of the debate is Professor William B. Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He recently said, “Passage of the DREAM Act is a morally positive step in the divisive discussion surrounding immigration.  . . . Education is an investment in the next generation of leaders. It is not a burden nor is it a revocable privilege to be denied those who have the talent to achieve. Passing the DREAM Act will be a moral investment in the future of America.”

To interview Dean Lawrence, please contact Roberta Cox, director of public affairs at Perkins, at 214-768-2335 (office).

Dean Lawrence, writing for the Texas Faith column of The Dallas Morning News, also said:

Let's be clear. The places at publicly funded universities are available on a competitive admission basis, as everyone knows. While some fearmongers and demagogues might try to push the notion that a dependent child of someone who entered the US illegally could occupy a place that might be occupied by somebody else's child, the reality is that all young applicants will compete for admission to such places - their grades, leadership gifts, extracurricular achievements, scores on standardized tests (SAT or ACT), along with other measuring devices, will determine invitations to enroll. If a young person who arrived in the United States illegally as a six-month old happens to be a stronger applicant for admission to the University of Texas than someone who happened to be born here, it would be unfair to take that offer of admission away from the deserving young person.

With regard to tuition rates, state institutions and the governing authorities that control them set the tuition rates. Some states have a huge imbalance between in-state and out-of-state tuition, because taxpayers in the state are judged to be contributors to the revenue stream which funds tuition. Texas is in a rather odd place concerning this detail, since there is no state income tax paid by residents. Essentially, the tax revenues are derived from property taxes (which will be paid by property owners, regardless of where they legally reside), sales taxes (which are paid by people who buy things here, regardless of where they live), and other fees for services (which are paid by the users of those services, regardless of their legal residence). There are states that have a narrower gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition, because they are eager to have talented young graduates come to school in the state and continue to live as taxpayers in the state.

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