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5/27: Tea party bills targeting immigrant tuition, sanctuary cities die
Released 13 June 2015  By Tom Benning - The Dallas Morning News

Tea party bills targeting immigrant tuition, sanctuary cities die

May 27, 2015
Tom Benning - The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN — Bills offered by tea party Republicans to target illegal immigration appear to have died quietly, after stirring up some of the most emotional and intense debate of the 140-day legislative session.

Barring some last-ditch maneuvering, a proposal to repeal a law that allows some students who are in the country illegally to pay in-state college tuition is done. The same goes for an effort to crack down on “sanctuary city” policies.

Also going nowhere is a measure to create an interstate border security compact that would seek ways for Texas to enforce federal immigration laws.

None of the measures even got as much as a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. And in the Senate, only the border compact was debated; it passed, but died in the House at a key deadline late Tuesday.

Republicans are poised to succeed in providing a major border security boost — spending $800 million on it over the next two years. But the Legislature’s more conservative members couldn’t get enough traction to force the issue on more contentious policy.

“We just don’t have the time in 140 days to deal with the big-ticket issues and also pander to a small percentage of movement conservatives,” Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican who opposes such proposals, said last month.

The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a border security bill that helps solidify the state police’s presence at the Texas-Mexico border. If the House accepts the Senate’s changes, it will head to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated he’ll sign it.

Many Republicans view the other immigration measures as unnecessary and harmful to their efforts to win over Hispanic voters. Others, having heard from the GOP base, say the state needs to cut off “magnets” to illegal immigration as a key part of border security.

“It’s just bad policy that rewards illegal immigration in perpetuity,” Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, said last month, explaining why she wrote the bill to repeal the in-state tuition program.

It appears that divide will linger unresolved for at least two more years.

On Twitter: @tombenning

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