Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Of note, political virtue signalling for the right, with risks of possible backlash. Proposal is intrinsically deplorable:

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, signed what was known as the Texas DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition rates to young undocumented students as long as they were state residents for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and promised to apply for permanent residency.

Two decades later, immigration politics in Texas have been completely transformed. Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for the Supreme Courtto strike down the 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling that forces states to pay for the education of undocumented children.

Speaking on a conservative radio show, Abbott said Texas already sued the federal government long ago over having to incur the costs of the education program.

“And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue,” Abbott said. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago.”

In light of the report that the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade and reverse long-enshrined federal abortion protections, Democrats and activists privately worry that efforts like Abbott’s are not the fantasy they would have seemed just six months ago, but could actually become reality in the near future.

But they argue Abbott’s gambit could backfire, as a similar campaign did after the passage of California’s infamous Proposition 187 in 1994 signed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, including public education.

After all, “Prop 187,” which only survived five years, had unintended consequences. Not only did it fail in discouraging immigrants from seeking services, it also helped to create a mobilized Latino electorate that proved to be a major factor in turning California blue.

Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist, worked in California GOP politics and considers Wilson a friend. But he says the fallout from Prop 187 could serve as a warning for Texas Republicans.

“The legacy of 187 was to create a generational voting bloc of Latinos against the Republican Party that would not normally happen,” Madrid said, adding that California was then experiencing the rightward shift Texas is experiencing now. “That changed substantially because of these attacks on the community. Once attacked, Latinos rally.”

In California, the Latino share of the electorate nearly doubled at the time and support for Republicans crumbled, a far cry from the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan garnered 48% of the Hispanic vote. When Bob Dole ran in 1996, he received a paltry 6% of the Latino vote.

Julissa Arce, an activist and author of the new book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation,” told Newsweek she was once an undocumented student in Texas when she lived in the state from age 11 to 21.

“Thank God no one was questioning how I got there,” she said. But fear was always present. “I never wanted to go talk to my counselor, afraid they might look at my documents.”

Abbott’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear, Arce said, particularly in a state where nearly 53% of public school students are Hispanic.

The end of the state educating undocumented kids would likely include echoes of the chaos of Prop 187, with school administrators having to ask children about the immigration status of their parents, and parents who have both undocumented and U.S.-citizen children pulling their kids from school.

Abbott has tacked to the right during his reelection campaign in an effort to energize his primary voters, often around issues concerning immigration and education. He sent buses of migrants to Washington DC, a message to the Biden administration to deal with a problem he feels it has made worse.

Last week, Abbott slammed the Biden administration for providing baby formula to immigrants in holding facilities, “as American parents scramble amid a nationwide shortage of the product.”

John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told Newsweekthe Texas governor widely publicized moves are an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s shortcomings.

“I think the governor’s point is the federal government continues to fail in its responsibility of dealing with immigration, and Congress has failed for decades, so as a result states have had to deal with the fiscal responsibility of the issue,” he said. “The border and illegal immigration is something Texas has picked up the tab on.”

Arce called Abbott’s announcements “anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric” for a reelection campaign, but acknowledged “it feels different because he could really turn this into action as we’ve seen with Roe v. Wade, and this relitigation of things we thought had been settled.”

Source: Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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