Monday, February 26, 2007

In State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants in Maryland Likely

While you wouldn't notice so much from the press, there is a bill making its way through the Maryland General Assembly that would grant in-state college tuition eligibility for illegal immigrants in the state. From Southern Maryland Online (story dated 2/20/07):
Immigrant advocates and high school students went before a House committee Tuesday to describe how illegal immigrants who live in Maryland are unable to go to college here because they are not allowed the lower tuition rates available to in-state students.

Undocumented immigrants are considered nonresidents of the state for tuition purposes because of their inability to establish legal residency.

"We're talking about children," Delegate Victor Ramirez, D-Prince George's County, sponsor of a bill to allow illegal immigrants to pay the in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. "It's not their fault and you shouldn't punish them. We should try to assimilate them to mainstream society and education is the way to do that."

If enacted the bill would change the requirements needed to obtain in-state-tuition rates. Prospective students would not have to provide a social security number but they would have to show that they attended a public or private high school in Maryland for at least two years and received a high school diploma or its equivalent within the state.

The applicants also have to prove that they are trying to obtain permanent residency status, which is the first step to becoming a legal citizen for foreign born residents.
First, while we may be talking about children, we are talking about children of illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants themselves, i.e. law breakers. Why should we as taxpayers in Maryland provide any financial breaks associated with Maryland citizenship and residency for people in this country illegally? The state already picks up the tab for health care (a not insubstantial sum), elementary and secondary eduction (also not cheap) and a host of other social services for a large illegal immigrant population. We, the taxpayers of Maryland are now going to be asked to subsidize education as a top-flight public university? We will the General Assembly draw the line?

Next, the story notes that students won't need a social security number, which is required of U.S. citizens, regardless of their home state. Foriegn students attending Maryland universities pay out of state tuition rates, and those students would be in the country legally. So for the price of a high school transcript (subsidized by the state) an illegal can get a pricey, high quality college education without all the rigamorole of a citizen (including I might add registering for selective service if they are men).

Tonight, a rally will be held in Annapolis, organized by CASA of Maryland, to push for the tuition bill, among other things. Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown is scheduled to attend.

Jazzmen Tynes, writing in the Towerlight, the student newspaper of Towson University, notes:
[S]everal states offer free-money and low tuition to illegal immigrants. So far, Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas have passed state laws providing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens who have attended high school in the state for three or more years.
Furthermore, University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan supports the measure. A similar measure was passed by the General Assembly in 2003, but then Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) vetoed the measure along with slashing health care benefits to illegals. At the time and during last year's election, Ehrlich was painted as anti-immigrant, when in fact it might be more appropriate to call him Pro-law.

If this nation is serious about stopping illegal immigration, one way that the federal government could put a stop to these state actions is with money, or rather the withholding of money. Like most state universities, the University System of Maryland gets substantial grants and research contracts from the federal government. The feds could easily say, no more grants or research unless you certify that in-state tuitiion is granted to U.S. Citizens or legal aliens only. But then the federal government would have to show a little backbone on this issue, something they have been loathe to do.

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