UT Austin Cuts Program for Illegal Immigrant Students, in Compliance With Anti-DEI Texas Law

Evan Poellinger | February 6, 2024
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The University of Texas at Austin has done away with a program that provided support for illegal immigrant students, sparking protests from some members of the student body.

The Monarch program, which was created in 2016, provided resources to illegals and their families, as well as a $500 to $1,000 scholarship for annual recipients. However, Senate Bill 17, signed into law last June by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, prohibits Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in Texas, prompting UT Austin to dissolve the Monarch program. The university stated that the program for illegal aliens “potentially violates Texas’ new ban on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in state universities and colleges.”

The UT Rooted Collective, a self-described “immigration student liberation collective,” has released a statement protesting the closure of the program, arguing that “the Monarch program did not implement any race or gender-based programming. Immigrants are not a single racial or ethnic group.” The statement also laments that “because of the discontinuation of the Monarch program, there are now no dedicated programs providing services for students who are undocumented, hold temporary status, or are from mixed-status families. The burden once again falls to students to provide their own services and resources.”

Of course, the statement does not distinguish how this newfound situation earmarks illegal immigrant students as facing a differing burden in regard to resources than any other UT Austin student.

Outside of DEI, another reason for the dissolution of the program referenced by internal messages obtained by The Dallas Morning News is the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Under the act, “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible...for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit.” Still, this has apparently not prevented other states, including Arizona and California, from offering scholarship programs to illegal immigrants.

The program has found itself in the crosshairs of two of Texas’ prominent political initiatives: strengthening border security and combating DEI ideology. Texas has continued to defiantly fortify its border against a surge of illegal immigration, in spite of pressure from the Biden administration, and has taken a variety of measures such as Senate Bill 17 to constrain the application of DEI principles in hiring and in higher education. Unfortunately for the Monarch program, its particular brand of intersectionality just happens to intersect with Texas’ favorite targets of opposition in the larger culture war.