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Eligibility Tightens as Maryland's Dream Act Moves Forward

Undocumented Maryland high school students are one step closer to receiving in-state college tuition rates.

Legislation that would permit undocumented high school graduates to pay in-state college tuition advanced as Democratic state senators approved a final bill language, including stricter eligibility requirements. The bill is now set for a full and final Senate vote Monday, Mar. 14. Under the Senate’s amended bill SB167, the student would be required to graduate from a Maryland high school, attend a community college within the high school’s jurisdiction and prove that taxes were paid by the student, parent or legal guardian three years before entering college.

The bill would also require undocumented students to complete an associate’s degree, or 60 credits, from a community college before they can qualify for in-state tuition at a four-year Maryland university, sign an affidavit stating they will apply for legal residency when they are eligible, and show proof of paid state income taxes while attending community college.

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D- 20) who represents Silver Spring and Takoma Park, voted in favor of the legislation.

“The Supreme Court held in 1982 that the states have a constitutional obligation to provide undocumented immigrant children with an equal public education,” Raskin said.

If the Senate bill passes Monday it’s next step would be through the House chamber. Del. Sheila Hixson (D-20), who also represents Silver Spring and Takoma Park, is a lead sponsor on the House companion bill. 

Opponents of the legislation think the eligibility requirements of the bill are not realistic and the bill is just another step towards amnesty. Brad Botwin the founder of Help Save Maryland, an anti-illegal alien advocacy group doesn’t agree with this plan. For him it’s more about the principle of the law.

“There’s no enforcement mechanism in this bill. Trying to apply for citizenship after you broke the law is nearly an impossible task. Illegal aliens are not supposed to be working - that’s already against the law. Once the kids’ graduate, they cannot get a job, cannot vote and cannot get a driver’s license,” Brown said.

Montgomery College is currently being sued by three county residents for extending in-state tuition fees to county high school graduates regardless of their immigration status.  The group representing the residents, Judicial Watch, said the college is violating federal law and the Montgomery County education code. While federal law permits undocumented children to receive an elementary and high school education, federal immigration law prohibits “undocumented immigrants from obtaining a postsecondary education benefit that U.S. citizens cannot obtain,” according to the Dept. of Legislative Services.  

Rewarding illegal aliens for criminal behavior by subsidizing college tuition is not reasonable, said Botwin. Undocumented students can already attend college, they just have to pay out of state rates which is very fair, he added.

“I saved for my two kids to make sure they got their education. They both graduated from out-of-state colleges. Now they want me to subsidize their kids to go to college,” asked Botwin.

 Legislative Services estimated state aid to community college would increase by $800,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 and $3.5 million in FY2016, due to anticipated student enrollment growth, if the bill becomes law. The House Education Subcommittee will next take up the legislation, but a date has not been set, said an aide to Delegate Hixson.

Frankee March 17, 2011 at 01:49 AM
No illegal kid should be allowed to use taxpayer dollars period. Yes my kids are special here as they are americans first and for most.. Doesn't matter if your kids are smarter... Just think, after high school ...They can't do anything just like you in this country......... Mari ,you are the IGNORANT AND ILLEGAL ONE ......Get out of the states as we don't need you or want you here as a ILLEGAL...The people who have applied and followed the rules to get here and become a USA Ciz. Are always ahead of you and yours...Anytime, all the time.....Oh look, here comes ICE for ya....You all have a great flight back home ..Ya Hear...
Frankee March 17, 2011 at 01:56 AM
So the people who follow the rules and become USA Cizs....Have more respect in this country than you will ever have from anyone.......The comment about unwanted kids .....Thats right no illegal kids need apply for anything.......The american taxpayer foots the bill for the High school education illegal or not ........Thats the end of the free ride...Go back to your country and apply like everyone else in this country of the USA......Nice to see you are still dreaming about nothing.....
jnrentz1 March 17, 2011 at 09:37 PM
During tough economic times, certain members of the Maryland State Legislature show more loyalty to illegal aliens than they do to Americans and legal aliens. That is sad. The Maryland Legislature proposes to do do something to benefit illegal aliens at the expense of Americans and legal aliens. Shame on them.
Dan Grossberg March 18, 2011 at 01:18 AM
So after the taxpayers subsidize the education of illegal aliens, where will the illegals work? What benefit will the taxpayers derive?
jnrentz1 March 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM
If the Maryland legislators wish to actually do something worthwhile, they should implement E-Verify statewide. And make English the Official Language of Maryland.

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