When Texas Welcomes Illegal Aliens, It Becomes More than a 'State Issue'

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on September 25, 2011

During the last two GOP presidential debates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has defended his support for in-state tuition breaks for illegal aliens by calling it a state issue. Certainly, many issues are best handled by states. But when a state embraces illegal immigration, the impact is not limited to the state itself. By opposing a border fence, opposing E-Verify, embracing sanctuary cities and tuition breaks, Perry and the Texas legislature have arguably turned the Lone Star State into America's illegal alien welcoming mat.

Speaking about in-state tuition breaks for illegal aliens at CNN's Republican debate on September 12, Perry said the following:

What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. And the legislature passed with only four dissenting votes in the House and the Senate to allow this to occur.

We were clearly sending a message to young people, regardless of what the sound of their last name is, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in the state of Texas and you want to pursue citizenship, that we're going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members in the state of Texas and not be a drag on our state. …

In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn't want to do that or Utah you didn't want to do this, that's fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity.

During the Fox News/Google debate last Thursday, September 22, Perry made the same argument:

This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it greatly.

The reality, of course, is that illegal aliens welcomed to the United States by Texas's policies are not necessarily going to remain in Texas indefinitely, nor will their children or grandchildren. By encouraging illegal immigration Texas creates an issue for all states.

A state can determine its own destiny on a whole host of issues, but when it comes to the enforcement of federal immigration laws, states have a role to play and should side with enforcement instead of encouraging illegal immigration into the country.