Bud Kennedy

Dallas ‘Dreamer’ says she’s a Texan, but will the Legislature agree?

Dallas college student Ana Zamora, right, meets Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Dallas college student Ana Zamora, right, meets Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. @DHSgov on Twitter

The Texas Legislature’s biggest problem was not in Austin last week.

The biggest problem was in Washington, and not named Obama.

Ana Zamora, 21, of Dallas saw the State of the Union address as Michelle Obama’s guest.

She is brilliant.

She is charming.

She is an honors graduate of one of Texas’ best charter high schools, on her way to a college business degree.

And she was born in San Luis Potosí.

That makes her a “Dreamer,” one of more than 100,000 children born elsewhere but brought to Texas as children and raised as Texans.

Iowa Republican congressman Steve King, a conservative kingmaker, called her by a different name.

On Twitter, he called her “a deportable.”

Not a student. Not even a human.

Just “a deportable.”

Whether she and the other 100,000 Dreamers stay in Texas and the U.S. is up to federal discretion and budget limitations, and this administration is letting innocent, law-abiding kids stay and live legally.

Soon, Texas lawmakers will decide whether Ana Zamora and her brilliant fellow Dreamers will continue to attend Texas colleges at state residential tuition rates.

Zamora will graduate in May from a scholarship program at a private university, Northwood.

Private universities will continue to lure away Texas’ top scholars if they are denied tuition discounts just because of where they were born.

By every definition, Zamora is a Texan. She graduated with honors from Williams Prep in Dallas, part of the acclaimed Uplift charter school system, where a former trustee is Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

There is no reason students with her talent and tenure in Texas should not be welcomed at the same tuition discounts extended to other residents.

At the University of Texas at Arlington, for example, the difference is nearly $9,000 per year, or $36,000 over a four-year education.

About 20,000 current students are affected statewide, mostly in junior and technical colleges, but some are top scholars in graduate and professional schools.

If overachieving Texas students born in other countries miss out on college, that is not good for the future of Texas.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is one of several lawmakers filing or planning bills to strip Dreamers of the tuition discounts.

Stickland has called the students “illegals” and said Texas must “turn off the magnets … that are attracting folks here.” Other lawmakers describe the discount as an “incentive.”

Returning a phone call Saturday, Zamora disagreed.

“Nobody comes from Mexico over college tuition,” she said.

“If there are students who grew up in Texas, and have lived and paid taxes in Texas forever, and those students make A’s and B’s, it is an asset to have those students go to state schools.”

She considered Texas A&M and the University of Houston but won more scholarship grants at Northwood, she said.

“People who say things about us should see how hard we work,” she said.

“This is my country. I grew up in Texas.”

There is only one name to call brilliant students like Ana Zamora who were brought here through no fault or guilt of their own, and went on to excel in school and become some of the state’s highest achievers.

We should call them Texans.

         

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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