MARCH 28, 2007
The legislature in one state overwhelmingly voted for a law–previously vetoed by a Republican governor–that grants illegal immigrants a privilege not afforded to all U.S. citizens.
The Maryland House of Representatives voted 81-57 this week to allow those in the country illegally to qualify for much cheaper in-state tuition in the state’s public universities, a move that will cost U.S. taxpayers thousands of dollars and save each illegal immigrant a good $10,000 a year.
Maryland lawmakers passed a similar bill a few years ago, but former Governor Robert L. Ehrlich vetoed it. State legislators are confident that new governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, will sign it into law and in fact they say he has verbally committed to doing so.
Federal law requires public elementary and secondary schools to enroll illegal immigrants but it prohibits illegal immigrants from obtaining tuition breaks that are not available to all United States citizens. A handful of states – Texas, California, New York and Utah – skirt the law by determining eligibility for in-state tuition on where the students attend high school rather than what state they legally reside in.
Maryland will do the same to bypass federal law and offer illegal immigrants the big tuition break that won’t be available to U.S. citizen who lives in another state. One Maryland legislator who opposes it says it will inevitably put an added financial strain on schools, drive up tuition costs and reduce the number of available slots at public colleges for legal residents.
A Bethesda high school student points out in the campus newspaper that the bill sends the wrong message to illegal immigrants and provides them with funds that should belong solely to legal residents of Maryland. He adds that supporters miss the purpose of in-state tuition as an accommodation to taxpayers of the state whose money funds the university.
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