Border politics in Maryland
Maryland -- 500 miles from Canada and 1,700 from Mexico -- is far from the country's borders. But that's not stopping state politicians from taking up immigration reform. This morning, The Sun reported on how the federal government's inaction on immigration has left it to Maryland and other states to develop policies.
Estimates of the state's population of illegal immigrants run as high as 250,000. Some lawmakers, including Baltimore County Republican Del. Pat McDonough, believe Maryland's policies have made it a "sanctuary state." He'd like that to change and says he is drafting 16 bills to crack down on illegal immigrants. One piece of legislation would require proof of citizenship to receive public benefits.
Other lawmakers are appealing to their colleagues to allow undocumented students of Maryland public schools to pay in-state tuition, rather than higher rates, at state colleges and universities. Democratic Sens. Victor Ramirez of Prince George's County and Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County will be spearheading that effort. Maryland has already approved in-state tuition once (Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. then vetoed it), and 10 other states have similar policies.
Legislative leaders of the Democrat-heavy General Assembly say the in-state tuition bill is likely to gain the most traction this year. It's sure to inspire heated words on the House and Senate floors, perhaps reminiscent of the tear- and anger-streaked driver's license debate of 2009.