Immigrant rights advocates rally at the Texas Capitol to protect in-state tuition for DREAMers

By guest blogger Marlon Saucedo, who recently joined our Austin staff as an intern and will be blogging at Texas Prison Bid'ness

A crowd of over 300 people rallied on February 11 in front of the Capitol to advocate in support for immigration reform aimed towards the benefit of the immigrant community.

“It is important for you all to educate yourselves on the economy so that you know how many dollars our children are paying in college. $42 million is how much we and our families contribute to our colleges,” said Ramon Romero Jr., one of several state representatives who spoke during the event.

Much of the rally was specifically in opposition to legislative action that would repeal House Bill 1403 and Senate Bill 1528, which grant in-state tuition and a claim to residency for higher education to immigrant students, respectively.

The Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance teamed up with other advocacy groups to give attention to their proposals regarding in-state tuition, demilitarization of the border and driver’s license access for immigrants.

“The more that people organize and make their voices heard, especially right in the face of power, causes lasting change to let legislatures who are anti-immigrant or anti-Hispanic know that our community isn’t going to sit down and take it,” said Skyler Korgel, the legislative lead and treasurer of the University Leadership Initiative.

The University Leadership Initiative, or ULI, is a student-run activist organization, which is affiliated with the University of Texas. The group is known for bringing accessibility to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications to the immigrant community as well as creating protest actions against the detention of immigrant persons.

Another strong topic mentioned throughout the rally, was Senate Bill 185, proposed by Sen. Charles Perry, which would repeal laws that deny police from asking about people’s legal status and outlaw sanctuary cities that protect immigrants by disallowing the funding required to enforce federal laws.

“The opportunities of immigrants and the future of immigrants is really the future of Texas,” said John-Michael Torres.

Torres is a communications coordinator of La Union Del Pueblo Entero or LUPE, which is an organization from San Juan, TX  that was kick-started by Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement.

“This is shaping up to be a similar type of immigrant session as compared to 2011,” said Torres. “The question is, ‘Are we going to have the mainstream support from different sectors to be able to block this legislation?’”