Why penalize kids who haven’t broken any law?
The petitions are signed and verified and there will be a referendum to recall Maryland’s new law allowing undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition at state colleges. The law, which is commonly called the Maryland Dream Act, has a lot of restrictions, but it’s a path to college and a better life for young adults from many nations who live here.
I absolutely and sincerely pray the referendum fails and the Maryland Dream Act stands, because it’s good policy, and because as we in America should have learned time and time again, it is foolish to try to hold a person down because of his race, religion or country of origin.
Wave after wave of immigrants have made this country stronger. And most of those waves were uninvited—the United States did not have immigration quotas and restrictions till 1921, when Congress started getting jumpy about the influx of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe.
Does anyone now, four or five generations later, have a problem with Poles and Italians living in the United States? Raise your hands. Anyone?
Remember the Yellow Peril? Does anyone still think that immigrants from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam will destroy our nation?
So why are we picking on the newbies?
At the moment we have a lot of Latinos, and people from the former Soviet Union, and people from the Middle East coming to this country. Some of them are uninvited. Some of them are criminal.
But most of them are not, and if we as a nation try to make their very existence in this country a criminal act, then we should a) think again and b) be ashamed of ourselves.
The United States cannot deport all of its undocumented residents. It can’t even come close. There are too many.
So why not concentrate on getting rid of the undocumented residents who commit actual crimes, and leave the rest to live and work in peace, spend their money and time here, and help rebuild our nation and economy?
Here’s a factoid for consideration. The five wealthiest states in the U.S. are New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Alaska. All five of those states have, in general, excellent public education facilities with easy access to higher education.
The five poorest states are Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
My statistical analysis—I am not a statistician but I do know how to calculate an average—shows that the in the five wealthiest states, roughly 89 percent of people are high school graduates. In the five poorest, the number is 82 percent. But the biggest difference between wealthiest and poorest has to do with the percentage of residents with higher education. In the wealthiest, about a third of people have degrees after high school. In the poorest, it’s only 18 percent.
Seems to me that it’s better to have more people in your state with access to higher education.
Our state is smart to pass the Maryland Dream Act. Because the more college graduates we have, the wealthier our state tends to be.
Under the Maryland Dream Act, here’s what an undocumented resident has to do to gain in-state tuition at Maryland state colleges and universities:
1. Live in Maryland.
2. Graduate from a state high school.
3. Complete 60 credits at a community college.
4. Prove that they or their parents, or both, paid state taxes for the past three years.
Here’s what a documented resident, or a U.S. citizen, has to do:
1. Live in Maryland.
So it’s not like we’re taking it easy on the undocumented folks.
And it’s not like the kids have broken any laws. Their parents brought them here. I seriously doubt a toddler could make it across the Arizona desert or the Rio Grande on his own.
The Maryland Dream Act is a great idea. Let’s not scuttle it.
by Jacqueline Watts