Texas being Texas

Texas, not satisfied with wanting to ban critical race theory, ending colleges’ diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, and eliminating tenure, has set its sights on banning people from countries conservatives don’t like with HB 4736.

PROHIBITED ADMISSIONS. Notwithstanding any other law, an institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, may not admit an applicant for admission to the institution as a student if the applicant is:
(1) a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia;
(2) not authorized under federal statute to be present
in the United States.

Honestly, I’ve never had a North Korean student — the North Korean government isn’t big on exposing their citizens to strange foreign ideas, much like the Texan government. I’ve had lots of Chinese students, and a few Russian and Iranian students. They’re fine. They’re often more motivated than American students, and if they go back to their home country after a few years with a little sympathy for the US, that’s a net gain for us. Or if they decide they want to stay in the US, that’s also a net gain. We can’t lose by freely sharing education with the world (it’s also a good idea for American students to study abroad). We all win.

Unless, of course, your goal is to make sure your citizenry doesn’t understand and hates foreigners from certain countries that have been currently designated as an enemy.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Wait? Russia is on their list? The white, conservative, Christian utopia where Czar Putin, defender of Western civilization and masculinity against Satanic wokeness, knows how to deal with blasphemers and queer-mo-sexuals?

    Someone hasn’t gotten the memo.

  2. numerobis says

    The GOP is split on whether Russia is good white people who properly hate the untermenschen, or whether they are evil commies (because 1991 is too recent for them to have processed it yet).

  3. numerobis says

    The far bigger problem in there is: not authorized under federal statute to be present in the United States.

    Papers please!

  4. wzrd1 says

    As such admissions are regulated by the federal government, this is a usurpation of federal authority under the supremacy clause of the Constitution.
    OK, Texas doesn’t want the US Constitution, give the entire state to Mexico and given Florida’s nonsense, they go to Cuba, both can be replaced by Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

  5. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    I agree with @4. The call-out for undocumented immigrants is a bigger deal than you made it PZ.

    The restriction for China is a bit glaring as well, since they make up a sizable portion of college students. I think this would be ultimately stupid as the US has traditionally benefited from ambitious and educated people coming from those countries to stay here. Not too mention many of them are rich enough to afford tuition. I guess all those wealthy and/or talented Chinese students will go to Canada and Europe to study instead of here. Look for an even greater shortage of tech workers in the future.

  6. billseymour says

    wzrd1 @5:  yes to Puerto Rico, but the District of Columbia before American Samoa.

    DC is “incorporated”, meaning that it’s a permanent part of the United States.  All other US territories are “unincorporated”, meaning that, in principle at least, they can be bargained away.

    PR and DC are both “organized”, meaning that they’re governed by an “organic act” of the US Congress.  AS is “unorganized”, and has a constitution of its own under the authority of the Department of the Interior.

  7. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Pretty sure that this is performative xenophobia, to be quietly dropped after a few TX colleges inform the morons in the legislature that the lost tuition money will be taken out of the football program. Or veterinarian school. Or both.

  8. billseymour says

    Oops, I made one mistake @7:  Palmyra Atoll is incorporated because it was claimed by the Republic of Hawaii when the latter was incorprated as a US territory; but it was not made part of the State of Hawaii.  It’s the only incorporated unorganized territory.

    And continuing with my pedantics, I should probably point out that American Samoa is also an oddity in that it’s the only unorganized territory with a permanent civilian population.

    Sorry if you didn’t really care about all that.

  9. Erp says

    The undocumented one is big, but, I also note the foreign citizenship would ban people who are refugees from the countries in question who are legally in the US or people with dual citizenship.

  10. anxionnat says

    When I was in college in the 1970s, I had a number of friends who were Iranian. The Iranian student organization was the most active group for foreign students on campus, and invitations to their celebrations were much sought after. I remember attending several new year celebrations and eating the most scrumptious food imaginable. They also hosted concerts, movie nights, fashion shows, debates and many other events, sometimes with other campus groups. Not only that, they were also politically active in opposition to the Shah. One of my roommates was the son of a man who had been a minister in the government of Mossadegh, which was overthrown in 1953 by the CIA. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, some of these students–whose politics ranged from conservative Islamist to communist–returned to Iran. I remember talking with those who remained here about their distress when the revolution was hijacked (their word) by conservative Islamists. Some of those former students who had returned to Iran were disappeared. Some of those who remained here were already American citizens (like the former roommate mentioned) and others became nationalized citizens after 1979. Like other ethnic groups often demonized here in this country (like Arabs–I knew many students from the Arab world, practiced my Arabic language skills with them, and attended their celebrations as well) I found these people to be fascinating to be around. Banning them from our country would have been the height of foolishness back then, and would certainly be so today.

  11. hemidactylus says

    @12 anxionnat
    A bit of a hot mess trainwreck the show Shahs of Sunset was fun to watch for a while. It did for Iranian (or Persian) diaspora Americans what the Kardashians did for Armenians (sarcasm).

    I am old enough to recall demonization of Iranians after the coopted revolution and our hostage crisis (gave birth to Nightline?). Delta Force had a horrific still birth in Iran as a botched rescue operation which couldn’t have helped Carter’s reelection chances.

    Yet alongside Reza Aslan the Shahs represent a slice of Iranian-American life. The latter may be a distorting decadent slice. I remember Aslan saying something about pretending to be Mexican when he was younger.

  12. anxionnat says

    @14 hemidactylus My Iranian roommate didn’t have to pretend to be Mexican. He was often approached by Latino students who addressed him in Spanish (this was in southern Calif), assuming he was Mexican. He was, in fact, a typical LA kid, hanging out at the beach and surfing w/ his friends. It wasn’t til he got to college and ran into Iranian foreign students that he started picking up a bit of the Persian language and learning about his heritage. His parents had spoken English at home. They had fled Iran in 1953 because his dad was a minister in the Mossadegh government. I guess his folks thought that the actual murderous truth would be too much for a child to understand.

  13. wzrd1 says

    @7, can’t make D.C. a state without an amendment altering Article 1, Section 8, which established the District as part of the government proper.
    ‘To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;…’

    @Feralboy12, quite true, been to Airstrip One a few times myself.
    Somehow, I doubt that the Crown was amused by that work.

    @anxionnat, the actual murderous truth tends to be too much for most US citizens to understand. Ike never should’ve allowed that coup after Harry forbade it. But, we’ve become quite adept at shooting our own feet.
    Or thereabout.

  14. Pierce R. Butler says

    … if they go back to their home country after a few years with a little sympathy for the US, that’s a net gain for us.

    What is it for us if they go back and tell their compatriots, “The US is dominated by violent yahoos who hate everybody else!”?

    We might do better to allow foreign students everywhere but Texas and north Idaho…

  15. HidariMak says

    “We can’t lose by freely sharing education with the world (it’s also a good idea for American students to study abroad). We all win.”
    Sharing knowledge around the world is the backbone of both education and of science, so of course there are Republicans who are against it. It just means that the next Google, Amazon, Costco or Apple will bypass such states, from immigrant to graduate to startup to major corporation. I just hope that those who watch their local economies tank are able to figure out who to blame for it.

  16. Andrew Dalke says

    To elaborate on @wzrd1’s supremacy clause objection, Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination of public education on the basis of national origin: “Desegregation” means the assignment of students to public schools and within such schools without regard to their race, color, religion, or national origin, but “desegregation” shall not mean the assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.

    Does the “China” in this bill mean the Republic of China (Taiwan), the People’s Republic of China, or both? Does Texas agree with the PRC’s policy that people living in “China’s Taiwan Province” are under PRC sovereignty?

    What prevents North Korea from trolling and declaring all Texans to be North Korean citizens?

  17. magistramarla says

    axionat@ #12
    Same here! We lived in the married students’ and International students’ dorm when we were in college in the ’70s.
    The parties in that building had the best and most varied food on campus.
    I took my baby with me to classes, but when I needed to do my student teaching during my last semester, I needed a babysitter.
    An Iranian friend happily took the job. We were bewildered when our toddler kept taking a pillow off of the couch and kneeling on it. I figured out the mystery one day when I arrived early to pick up my little one. Manesha was about to begin her prayers and asked me to sit down to wait. I sat quietly and watched as she took a pillow off of her couch to kneel on, with her little boy and my little girl imitating every move she made.
    We learned so much about other cultures living in that dorm, and we were pleased that our daughter had that early exposure to other cultures as well.

  18. magistramarla says

    I did have a North Korean student, and in a Texas high school, of all places!
    He did his best to hide that he was a great student, but he effortlessly made outstanding grades in all of his classes.
    The administration was stunned when he wound up being salutatorian his senior year, since no one in the main office even knew him. I was shocked to find out that he had not even applied to college.
    Another teacher, whom the boy had taken into his confidence, told me his story.
    It seems that his mother had noted his brilliance and got him smuggled out of North Korea as a small child. His South Korean aunt and uncle took him to Texas, where he grew up helping them in their restaurant. It seems that the family always lived in fear of his being deported.
    The other teacher had contacts at A&M, and managed to get him accepted and awarded scholarships. I wrote him a glowing recommendation letter.
    I heard that he graduated with honors and a degree in chemical engineering. However, I also heard that he returned to South Korea, since he still lived in fear of being deported to North Korea by this country.
    The US missed out on having that brilliant, sweet young man as a citizen here.

  19. lanir says

    This is all performative even if it doesn’t spawn a lawsuit that gets it instantly repealed. I’m not sure about the state of things now but about 20 years ago I was attending a university in Indianapolis. The art department sponsored a trip to China each year in partnership with a university over there. It did involve some art but they also thought it was worthwhile to experience another country quite different from our own. And I think it was also part charm offensive from the Chinese side but in a low key way from what I was told. It was too expensive for me so I couldn’t go but it sounded interesting.

    I think if you can run across things like that in a backwards middle of nowhere red state like Indiana then I can’t imagine all this “monkey see no diversity, monkey hear no diversity, monkey be no diversity” BS is going to be very effective. It seems like the kind of censorship that draws attention to the thing it’s trying to hide and adds a kind of mystique to it.

    Some days I wonder if the republican party has given up on even existing past the point when many of the currently living seniors die out.

  20. jrkrideau says

    Teuxas copycats
    1,100 scientists and students barred from UK amid China crackdown

    Nothing like a bit of hysteria and xenopdobia.

    We in Canada are now in an uproar over Chinese “interference” in elections, based on unsubstantiated leaks from “someone. Skippy , the leader of the Opposition. who in US terms seems a cross between Joe McCarty & Lindsey Graham is doing his best to ingratiate himself with the raving mad right.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Some good news- we all dodged a civilisation-frying bullet.
    “Wow! The Sun just produced a Carrington Event, but we got super lucky!”
    This puts the recent intense Corona Borealis activity in perspective

  22. StevoR says

    @ ^ jrkrideau : Britain’s reichwing Tory copycats sure are lazy. Pinched that from Texas pinched theri anti-refugee policies from Oz. See : https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/a-bbc-presenter-criticised-the-uks-boat-policy-he-was-suspended/yefac9bqb

    @ 22. garydargan : “Perhaps the civilised states in the US, (are there any?), should just bar entry to Texans.”

    Define “civilised” maybe? Florida is pretty close to as bad isn’t it and as for Missisippi and Alabama and others, well, I don’t really know but from the impression I get in the media, music and generally..

    @ 17. Pierce R. Butler : “We might do better to allow foreign students everywhere but Texas and north Idaho…”

    See above sentence as well. Then there’s “Morridor” and the “Bible/ Rust Belt / “Fly-over” states generally maybe? Or is that being unfair to them? Good and bad people everywhere. There’s an American Christian woman who is a friend and member of a local pro-Refugee group and I’ve had good Iranian nieghbours who were really nice people – and also great cooks – so, people are people everywhere and good & ba din (almost) al groups I guess?

    Lack of demographic diversity and local exposure to other cultures breeds xenophobia and racism or at least prejudice and lack ofunderstanding to a degree. More cosmopolitanism and less parochialism please!

  23. StevoR says

    Whelp, I guess y’all can see where I stuffed up my closing of the italics tag… Sigh.

  24. Rich Woods says

    may not admit an applicant for admission to the institution as a student if the applicant is:
    (1) a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia;

    “Yee-haw! Don’t need no goddamn soft power when you got a six-shooter!”

    If this passes, expect several amendments to be hastily proposed by bandwagon-jumpers, each extending the list with traditional targets of Republican hate such as Cuba, Venezuela, France…

  25. laugengebaeck says

    One thing about Iranian citizenship: Iran doesn’t allow its citizens to relinquish Iranian citizenship. In other words, just being born to the “wrong” parents or in the “wrong” place will bar you from studying in Texas if this proposal goes through. Same with Trump’s short-lived immigration ban in 2016, which caused quite some stir here in Germany when one of our most prominent transatlantic politicians, Omid Nouripour (currently co-leader of the Greens, the third largest faction in federal parliament), had to cancel a number of meetings with his US counterparts on account of being born in Teheran (having become German citizen long before and being an MP here didn’t help).

  26. wzrd1 says

    Interestingly, the BS against NATO occurred around the same time push-back occurred over the Omid Nouripour ban from entering the US. Apparently, that caused tension within NATO allies, the push-back began and Trump then tried to extort NATO partners.
    Which caused friction inside his own party, while he went on about quitting NATO to his base, while doing the opposite politically.
    Well, Trump has his village in Florida, one full of idiots.

    I’m sure he’ll declare victory on Tuesday or Wednesday, when his self-announced arrest “plans” fail to occur.