Note: There was some confusion between me and Christian's office -- when I talked to them, my understanding was that they confirmed the red- and green-type in the letter, and they said they'd send me a copy.
I never got it, but they now say the original letter did not include green and red ink, and they did not mean to confirm that it did in our conversation. East Texas state rep Wayne Christian, like most other legislators, voted for a bill in 2003 that allowed children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition for colleges.
As the hardcore rightwinger notes, the vote was not even a bit controversial at the time, coming as it did as part of a more comprehensive higher-ed bill.
But now, because of the GOP presidential primary which made a huge issue that such bills "provide an incentive" for illegals to come here, Christian is backtracking. Furiously. And hilariously.
In an overwrought letter to constituents
-- filled with underlined type in both green and red, for some reason -- Christian says he no way, never ever, never ever ever intended that the bill to allow in-state tuition to illegal immigrants would actually allow in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Telling his constituents they "may have received a letter in the mail or a phone call from my opponent claiming that I am weak on immigration because of a vote I cast in 2003 to set college tuition rates of the children of illegal immigrants at the 'in-state' rate," Christian explains "the rest of the story."
Which is basically that "Unfortunately, a big and unintended loop hole existed in the bill." (
You'll have to imagine that quote in green type.)
He and his conservative colleagues "have introduced numerous pieces of legislation to repeal this provision since the ugly truth was revealed," he writes (
in red type this time).
In-state tuition should only be for Illegals who were in the process of becoming U.S. citizens, Christian says. (Still sounds dangerously liberal to us, or it would if we were a member of the Tea Party.)
Anyway, some highlights from the stark depiction of a man who's realizing a seemingly innocent past vote may now come back to bite:
4. We knew nothink
First and most importantly, this bill was treated on the House floor as a higher education bill, not an illegal immigration bill. The legislation (HB 1403 in the 77th session) laid out who would be considered a Texas resident for the purpose of tuition rates for our state's public universities.
3. It's not just me!
No one thought this bill would become controversial. In fact, after the session none of the conservative think-tanks used this bill in their ratings of the Legislature, because it appeared to be a simple and straightforward higher education bill defining residency.
2. The attempt to re-establish his East Texas right-wing bona fides In red type:
I was named one of Top Ten Worst Legislators in Texas by the liberal Austin press for my attempt to prevent scholarships from being awarded to the children of illegal immigrants, as I do not believe that any public money should be diverted away from hard-working Texans and their children who are seeking to better themselves.
1. Finally, he inadvertently argues why giving in-state tuition to all children of illegals is a good thing
Because we had already invested your precious state tax dollars in giving these children a public education (an unfunded mandate of the federal government) and they were on the path to US Citizenship, we thought it would be beneficial to our state to give these children a better chance at becoming productive members of society. By allowing them to pay for their tuition at an in-state rate, they would have a better chance of graduating from college and becoming taxpayers and independent citizens that would raise future generations of self-sufficient and productive Americans. It was by no means a give-away of taxpayer funds, as these children would be expected to pay for their education in full just like everyone else in Texas.
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It's worth it to read the whole thing, if only for the colors: