Late last month, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board voted unanimously to update the state law that grants in-state tuition to undocumented students attending college. The rule change would require universities to send undocumented students annual reminders of their obligation to seek legal status and would require universities to keep affidavits of that obligation on file. Its widespread impact would affect more than 16,000 students who receive in-state tuition because of the law.
The law, recently criticized during Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, attracted controversy over the summer because critics feel it does not follow through on whether students are actually pursuing legal status. Though this rule change does not alter the eligibility for in-state tuition, it creates a dangerous situation for undocumented students.
The annual reminder has the potential to confuse students and put them in jeopardy of deportation if they ask for clarification from the wrong official. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund specifically criticized the board’s decision because it does not add any recommendation for students to seek legal counsel before contacting an immigration official.
The coordinating board has summarily dismissed these claims as unimportant. Its spokesman, Dominic Chavez, said that “nothing should be read into” the rule change, according to The Texas Tribune. However, this mentality disregards the sensitive nature of the topic and its importance to students in a precarious legal situation, and the board should not diminish the potential impact the rule will have on thousands of Texas students.