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April 7, 2011

House begins in-state tuition debate

Delegates spent hours Thursday afternoon discussing a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges and four-year universities. The proposal, which has already passed the Senate, is scheduled for final consideration Friday morning in the House of Delegates.

Undocumented students who would benefit from the legislation — as well as immigrant advocates and supportive clergy from Baltimore, Montgomery County and elsewhere — listened from the House galleries. An even larger group is planning to attend Friday, activists said.

Thursday’s discussion remained relatively technical, with 13 amendments offered and rejected as opponents unsuccessfully tried to chip away at the bill.

Del. Michael D. Smigiel characterized the debate as “a difference in policies and principles.”

“Some of us want a bigger tent,” said the Eastern Shore Republican, who opposes the tuition bill. “Some of us believe that we do something to our society when the word ‘illegal’ not longer means illegal.”

Republican members raised questions about how much the plan would cost.

One fiscal analysis shows the state would pay about $800,000 next year in state aid to community colleges and cost about $3.5 million by 2016. Colleges and universities have said they can absorb a bump in enrollment without raising tuition, and bill advocates said other states that provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrants counted such students as about 1 percent of their enrollment population.

Del. Anne Kaiser, who led the floor debate on the bill, said the cost should be weighed against the benefits of educating all Marylanders. “Many of us believe this should be a priority,” said the Montgomery County Democrat. “There’s room for everyone who wants an education.”

Under the proposal, an undocumented student who attended at least three years of high school in Maryland and whose parents have paid state taxes would qualify for in-state tuition rates at a community college. After completing two years, he or she could transfer to a four-year institution and again pay the in-state rate.

The bill would save qualifying students from $4,000 to $6,000 a year at community college, according to a legislative analysis. For those who go on to a four-year institution, the savings would increase. In-state tuition at the University of Maryland, College Park this year is $8,655; nonresidents pay $25,795.

Advocates said students who would benefit from the lower tuition rates often were brought illegally to the country as young children and know no other place as home.

“You shouldn’t punish students about a decision their parents made,” Kaiser said.

Opponents had a different take.

“They come here to game the system,” said Del. Richard K. Impallaria. The Republican, who represents Baltimore and Harford counties, said students who’d lobbied him on the bill had made the choice to come to America illegally to live with aunts and uncles while their parents remained in their native land. “It seems very unfair and very unbalance,” he said, noting schools are already “overcrowded.”

At least 10 other states give illegal immigrants access to in-state tuition rates. Kaiser said Maryland’s plan would be “the most arduous in the country,” saying that none of the other states call for proof of taxes paid and three years of attendance at state high schools.

States are required to provide kindergarten through 12th grade education to residents regardless of immigration status. Kaiser said many illegal immigrants pay taxes. In Maryland, more than 36,000 people have registered tax identification numbers, which do not require social security numbers, she said, and many of them are likely to be illegal immigrants.

The General Assembly passed similar tuition legislation in 2003, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican. Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign the bill into law.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 7:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: 2011 legislative session, Immigration
        

Comments

More than half of the illegal immigrant families in many states are on welfare — as many as 62 percent in Arizona — and they’re getting the taxpayer-funded benefits through their American-born children, Judicial Watch reports.

What’s more, families headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal, use welfare programs at a consistently higher rate than native-born Americans, the conservative foundation contends.

Judicial Watch cited an analysis that the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies did of U.S. Census Bureau data. The study, which looked at eight pubicly funded assistance programs, said the states where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare-use rates following Arizona’s 62 percent are Texas, California, and New York, at 61 percent each, and Pennsylvania, at 59 percent.

Food assistance and Medicaid are the welfare programs that illegal immigrant-headed families use most frequently, mostly on behalf of their U.S.-born children, according to the report.

These children, whom critics dubbed “anchor babies,” are guaranteed automatic citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

The report found that most of the immigrants receiving benefits from welfare program come from the Dominican Republic, followed by Mexico and Guatemala, and then Ecuador.


© Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Read more on Newsmax.com: Many Illegal Immigrant Families Are on Welfare, Study Shows
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Reg....and what pray tell, would be your solution?

“You shouldn’t punish students about a decision their parents made,” Kaiser said

I wonder if she feels this way about abortion?

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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