Poor State Rep. Wayne Christian, the Republican from Center, is doing his damnedest to ensure that anyone who looks or thinks or loves differently than he doesn’t have the resources to get a college education, but it seems he can’t win for losing.
You may remember Christian as the architect of last year’s attempts to defund and remove LGBT student resource centers from Texas college campuses, but he’s also a strident proponent of keeping undocumented immigrants out of Texas’ schools. Unfortunately for Christian, he voted for a 2003 bill that had the temerity to allow immigrant children to pay in-state tuition if they were working toward citizenship and graduated from a Texas public school.
Christian’s Republican primary opponent, Marshall Mayor Chris Paddie, has seized on this momentary lapse into decency to attack Christian for being too soft on “illegal immigration.” In response Christian has distributed a bizarrely Christmas-colored three-page missive alternatively highlighted in red and green defending his position. Christian points out that he co-authored a bill this session to revoke in-state tuition to non-citizens and three years ago authored a bill that would have prevented scholarships from going to non-citizens, but it’s this passage (one of the few un-highlighted sections) that reveals Christian’s true motive:
“We have an immigration crisis in our state and our nation, and most pressing is the rejection of the values and institutions of America by the growing illegal immigrant population.”
It would seem that Christian’s concerns are based less on issues of legality or illegality or concerns about creating a massive underclass of off-the-books workers unable to access workplace protections and more on the “rejection of the values and institutions of America.” To put it another way, people who speak a different language or eat different foods or decorate their houses in different ways make him uncomfortable and must be stopped.
Which brings me back to Christian’s attempts to destroy campus LGBT resource centers, because it really is all part of the same issue. There was a time in this state when the only people who got to go to college were people who acted and looked and thought like people who already got to go to college. When people who are different, whether it’s because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression or because of where they were born and who their family is, are given the opportunity to learn and to then enter and walk the halls of power it changes who we are as a people. If you’re comfortable with the way things have always been this is terrifying, but if you’re part of one of those communities that has been kept out it can be thrilling (and perhaps terrifying as well).
It’s not a coincidence that the same people who rush to burnish their homophobic credentials are the same ones tripping over themselves to be the most anti-immigrant. Keeping “those people” in their place has a long tradition in Texas politics, and it’s time the people of Texas stood up and declared that we are “those people” and we’re not going to put up with it anymore.
After the jump, read Christian’s full candy-striped missive.