Deal reached on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants
The measure, known as The Dream Act, was debated briefly on the senate floor this morning -- but the full discussion is set for next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Advocates have long wanted to grant the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition at Maryland's university system. Opponents say widening the pool of applicants will only make admission more difficult for those who've played by the rules.
Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller, however, floated a different approach just before session started: Grant in-state tuition at community colleges.
The bill that came out of committee blends the two proposals. It says undocumented students can receive the in-state discount at community colleges and, after earning an associates degree or 60 credits, they can transfer to a four year state university and pay the lower rate.
To qualify, the potential students would have to show that either they or their parents paid Maryland taxes for the past two years and submit an affidavit that they were attempting to become legal citizens. Graduation from high school is also required.
Senators will have the chance to weigh-in on the issue during next week's debate and the GOP caucus signaled that they will offer multiple amendments to the bill. Democrats too expressed some skepticism this morning, with Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, inquiring about the fiscal costs associated with the bill.
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, called the idea an "unfunded mandate" to the state's community colleges, which he said would have to absorb costs associated with a slew of new students.
The House has not yet acted on the bill.