Keep the Dream Act

Written by on June 14, 2011 in Baltimore Voices - 14 Comments

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
editor@baltimoreguide.com

14 Comments on "Keep the Dream Act"

  1. GEEN June 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm · Reply

    Oh yuppie elitism how I loathe thee… While I firmly believe that there needs to be an overhaul of the immigration system, I do not believe that utilizing our higher educational system is the right way to go about it. It is sleazy, pandering, and board-line corrupt. People who are here illegally face many issues that I think those whom make it easier for them to be here do not understand. Often I do not see these same people (the tuition supporters) cracking down on the slave driving employers who hire these illegals under the table at $3 per hour for 15 hours a day. When was the last time we have seen any new legislation calling for tougher laws against employers in order to end this type of abuse. I do not see these same “humanitarians” come down on the slumlords that pack them into 1 bedroom apartments, that are falling apart, 8 at a time at maximum rent… draining them of practically all of their monetary resources, leaving them with little to live on knowing that they won’t complain. These “humanitarians” are somehow convinced that the answer is COLLEGE! When was the last time a study was taken to find out how many of these illegals are concerned with college? How many speak English? How many have a High School degree? GED? It is almost humorous if you think about the REAL problems that MOST of the illegals in this country are truly facing. This is an elitist vision of a problem/solution. They think that it is about change, but it really isn’t. They are still leaving those that really need the help out in the cold and only assisting a very small/privileged portion of people.

    All this will do is pave the way for the VERY FEW who have established temporary residency before leaving to go back to where they call home and further set the ground for possible amnesty measures. I say possible only because I believe that most of these people have zero interest in citizenship and those that work with them know this good and well. It is not like it used to be folks. Let’s not fool ourselves, they want our rights, but most of them do not want to be American citizens.

  2. Victor Corbin June 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm · Reply

    Letter to the Editor
    Why penalize legal Maryland Taxpayers who honor the rule of law?

    Your column about the Maryland Dream Act was written out of emotion and not fact. This law is not about race, religion or country of origin. This is simply a bad law! I am the son of two Latino parents who legally immigrated to the United States by waiting their turn. As a family, we are opposed to this law solely base on the fact you should not be rewarding those who entered the country illegally.

    There are some simple facts you failed to address in your column. First, even if you were to allow children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition in Maryland once they graduate they would still not legally be allowed to work in the United States. They would still remain illegal.

    You column also did not address the financial cost to the residents of the State of Maryland. Maryland tax-payers, will be supplementing the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. An example of the cost to Marylanders:

    The University of Maryland College Park tuition costs are $8,416 for in-state and $24,831 for out-of-state – that is a $16,415 difference that will be subsidized by Maryland tax-payer dollars.

    I know many Marylanders who cannot afford to send their own children to college, and yet this bill uses their tax dollars to pay for illegal immigrants to go to college. We simply can not afford it.

    As far as your argument that that the parents are paying state taxes, you also fail to address the fact that the parents are breaking another law by working illegally. Many who are working illegally do so by using fake social security numbers and if that is correct they are committing fraud when applying for employment (breaking yet another law).

    I had a unexpected encounter with the head of Casa Maryland several weeks ago and he admitted that he knew that the children after graduating would not be able to legally work in this country, then he said ” A U.S. Degree is good anywhere in the world and they could go back to their home country with their degrees”. They would not be contributing to the economy of Maryland as many falsely claimed when testifying in Annapolis. Those who support in-state tuition along with Casa Maryland hope that this kind of effort will lead to some form of amnesty. When I confronted Casa Maryland about this he did not deny that this was a tool to force amnesty.

    Plan and simple the Maryland Dream Act condones bad behavior, it teaches young people of illegal immigrants that they do not have to respect or obey the laws of this country. Finally, I ask you what is the parent teaching their children by themselves breaking the law? and then reinforcing the breaking the law by rewarding the bad behavior with granting them in-state tuition or any other benefits afforded to a legal citizen of the United States of American

    No matter how you try to frame your argument in favor of Maryland Dream Act, the child of an illegal immigrant who completes college they would still not be allowed to legally work in the State of Maryland or the United States of America. The referendum does not keep the children of illegal immigrants from attending any schools of higher education they just have to pay the out-of-state tuition rates.

    The legal residents of the State of Maryland should be deciding this issue, not politicians beholden to a special interest group. Not the governor, state representatives or city officials. All whom encourage the breaking of Federal law yet they are surprised that both legal and illegal residents do not obey or respect the laws of our city and state. These officials should be held accountable, they take an oath to uphold the constitution of the State of Maryland.

    Respectfully,

    Victor Corbin
    Legal resident, taxpayer and voter of the State of Maryland

    • lenny July 7, 2011 at 11:00 am · Reply

      Victor: Many of your statements are irrelevant to the tuition bill. Before delving into that, let’s analyze your family’s situation. I am happy that your family obtained citizenship legally according to your post. However, from what country and what date did they arrive in the USA. Were they part of a previous amnesty program? Asylum? None of this is revealed by you. Did they ever use a “fake” social security card or other documentation while in the USA. In what year did they gain their citizenship? How old are you and where were you born? Where have they been employed. Where did they go to school? Any advanced degrees? So, further scrutiny of your story may reveal things aren’t as you have described…or exactly as you described. However, if I am investigating your claim, I’d want documentation supporting your story. Your comments about the head of Casa de Maryland are fraught with problems. What is the name of the person you talked to? What event and what was the date and time generally of your unexpected encounter? You are attributing statements by this person to you without conveying a name. Now, about the bill. The issue at hand, as per how the bill is written and what it contains (fight the bill and get a referendum all you want), has not been addressed by you in your comments. Community college fees are based on the locality where you live. Ex: A student from Baltimore City is not entitled to the same tuition rate as a Baltimore County student if attending Essex Community College and vice versa for a county student enrolling in a city community college. The bill states the student must have resided in the locality for at least 3 years prior and have filed income taxes. Like any person filing taxes, once the return is filed, they may or may not have any federal and/or state income taxes. They are not entitled to EIC. In order to file a tax return, a social security or ITIN number is used. An illegal can file using an ITIN. Citizens of other countries are also legally allowed to be employed in the USA even if they are not US citizens. Some have no intention of wanting to become US citizens, while others do. The employer is responsible for using e-verify for example before hiring. As with some legal US citizens, some are employed under the table. Many are employed and receiving a paycheck that includes FICA and Medicare payments, not including any federal or state payroll taxes being withheld. Citizenship can also be obtained easier through “rich people” programs and advanced degrees and professional programs. Legal immigration can take 10 years or longer. A foreigner can invest $500,000 in the USA and gain legal citizenship ahead of someone who has been waiting longer. There are roughly 140,000 Visa programs available to certain groups. Look it up on the government sites. Go after the bill, but if addressing it the way it is written, then the individual only has to comply by the bill’s guidelines..legal or not. Poor people living in countries looking for a better life, will do anything to better the lives of their kids. Your parents included…legally or not. Go after the main culprits, like the corporations and businesses hiring them, not separating the working parent(s) from children by locking them up. Elect a change of reps in Maryland, a heavily Democratic state for umpteen years. The votes of illegals are not needed to maintain control. If you want change, round up voters and representatives to defeat the incumbents. However, if debating the merits of the bill as written, refrain from what occurs after they graduate and never state they aren’t a taxpayer.

  3. jackie June 18, 2011 at 4:11 am · Reply

    Maryland is now the 4th highest taxed state of the country and that was before o’malley’s re-election. I bet we’re heading to the top of the list.. He has to pay for his New Americans who work our jobs, steal welfare and have babies for profit..Can’t forget o’malley’s agenda.. Illegals vote democrat and o’malley supports casa de md with Millions$ of our tax $$ who aid and abett illegal aliens and entice Md to become the sanctuary state it is….

  4. jackie June 18, 2011 at 4:07 am · Reply

    I have to disagree. I think Im a bit more knowledgeable about the rough side of this coin. As a granddaughter of Immigrants who came to America early 1900′s as many of us are, this ERa of Immigrants are so very different. According to The constitution we are obligated to educate the children of Immigrants including Illegal immigrants from kindergarten through 12th grade and many Times we support them from birth such as Anchor babies that I call “babies for profit” because of their parents deeds. Now they want taxpayers to subsidize their college Education costing taxpayers many millions$$ and possibly taking up space in our colleges limiting access to college for citizens. In MD Last year, only 1000 out of approximately 500,000 undocumented aliens became a citizen because it is more productive to stay illegal then it is to become a citizen. They come into our country for a new life and into our land of the free that is now broke.They are anchored into the system by having babies. They average more than 5 kids and taxpaying citizens support them. The parents are given welfare, food stamps, energy assistance, emergency cash assistance while they work our Jobs, drive our roads and vote .Most of them are getting welfare using fake and stolen id. Marylands welfare is now at 30% fraud because of them. In Annapolis last year their were 2 proposals *bills* that would of required undocumented aliens to show legit Id when applying for state Jobs, welfare and voting privileges. Casa de MD, the Episcopal and Catholic church insisted that we can’t pass such a bill. The said that we need to help them meaning allowing them to continue to use fake and stolen ids.. Identity theft is at an all time high. It happened to 2 of my family members and is a nightmare.
    Do you realize how many are also getting multiple welfare checks and amenities because they use fake ids? They also sent over $60 billion back to Mexico last year.
    In MD undocumented aliens cost taxpayers In excess of $2billion. $1 billion of it Is used to educate their many children every year. Over 1 million foreclosures last year in our country and possibly more this year because our Jobs are being taken over by low paying illegals who live in hot houses and inhumane conditions. We just can’t handle it. My immigrant grandparents and parents NEver had a family until they could afford them and not rely on their neighbors tax $$ to raise them through college. They came to America and respected the land and not trash it. They followed the rules and respected our laws. They had a number and a Legit id not fake ones. They taught themselves English and didn’t rely on tax $$ to teach them. Their is so much I can write ABout regarding illegal immigrants but I think I’ve spoke enough. I love all people and their children but they must become a legitimate taxpayer and a citizen. You may say that they pay taxes but they pay very limited taxes because they claim many dependants. Do your research and glad to have the opportunity to explain this some detail. If you’d like to chat, I’m available..

    Jackie

  5. Judy Bach Baltimore Coordinator June 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm · Reply

    Wow Ms Watts Do you work for casa de md or aclu? Your history of immigration is totally DISTORTED and you fail to differentiate Legal from Illegal. TYPICAL. Brain Dead argument. These gentlemen are correct People like you are RUINING our country. This Petitiondrive Will be successful
    Live with it schnookums

  6. Ann Miller June 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm · Reply

    Ms. Watts, your arguments are so misinformed I feel compelled to comment. First, these “children” you keep referring to are 18 years and older. If they were brought by their parents, they are now adult illegals following in their criminal parents footsteps. Further, the law does not stipulate an age. In 10 years, you will have illegals in their thirties qualifying.

    Consider this scenario: if a thief steals from you, do we give the booty to the thief’s children, or return it to its rightful owner?

    “Some of them are criminal.” No, ma’am. ALL of them are criminal. They are breaking our nation’s existing immigration laws. Whether or not they go on to break other laws or not only makes their criminality worse. This petition does not “make their existence criminal”, existing federal immigration law does.

    Moreover, the law does not require them to be tax PAYERS. It requires them to be tax FILERS. Big difference, especially since they “child” you keep referring to can be the filer, undoubtedly not paying taxes. They can even file for previous years just to qualify even if they have never filed a tax return before.

    Go to http://www.mdpetitions.com and get your facts straight.

  7. ceci calvert June 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm · Reply

    Illegal Immigrants/Illegal Aliens/Criminals, your problem is you fail to mention Illegals, Legal Immigrants dont even get the tuition breaks. People from around the world come to our schools legally and have to pay out state. Illegals deserve NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING. Just like Alabama and I am driven to make Maryland like Alabama, regardless of that Phoney Governor Poop For Brains OMalley who breaks federal and state laws when it suits him best. Casa De Maryland, the criminal organization will see its days of funding go by the wasteside, along with Identity Inc, and whatever else they have their hands into thanks to their pandering delegates and senators in PG and MOCO and B City. Just think, even Democrat Dels and Sens telling their constituents to sign the petition. You have no shot at stopping the referendum or at the ballot. Casa cant reach that far sugar.

  8. Gordon Hoffman June 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm · Reply

    The law does NOT state that they have to prove they paid taxes; it states they have to prove they filed a return. Almost half of the residents of this country do not pay taxes, but a great many file a return and actually get a refund due to the brilliant Earned Income Credit (i.e. Welfare) id they worked even a token amount. This is a loophole that CASA, and their Democratic supporters, were very careful to include in the bill before ramming it down our collective gullets. Furthermore, immigrants, in the past, had the common decency to report to an immigration station, as required by law. The criminals living among us today have done no such thing.

  9. ceci calvert June 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm · Reply

    You left something out Dear, you only need a GED and that they waited until May 9th to get an opinion from Gansler, who himself even knows this breaks the Law. The Dream Act will be defeated by the Voters in 2012. Sorry Illegals, go home. You are not allowed to be here. The sins of the father become the sins of the sons, sorry, when those kids come over the border breaking the law with their parents, they have to pay the piper. Sorry, its the LAW.

  10. A. J. Fox June 17, 2011 at 7:20 am · Reply

    We, the Maryland tax-payers, will be supplementing the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. University of Maryland College Park tuition costs are $8,416 for in-state and $24,831 for out-of-state – that is a $16,415 difference that will be subsidized by Maryland tax-payer dollars. Many Marylanders cannot afford to send their own children to college, and yet this bill uses their tax dollars to pay for illegals to go to college.

    Paying over 50% of the tuition costs for illegal aliens is a slap in the face to both new Americans who have taken the time and effort to become lawful U.S. citizens, and to students from other states who attend a Maryland college, paying the full tuition cost.

    We need to enforce our existing immigration laws. In Maryland alone, we pay over $1 Billion a year on illegal immigrants for K-12 education, medical expenses, and incarceration, and we cannot pass more laws that encourage illegals to come here.

    • ceci calvert June 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm · Reply

      Amen, plus we pay 1.6 billion annually to take care of Illegal Aliens in Maryland to house them, incarcerate them, school them, free healthcare and social services, while the rest of us try to scratch two pennies together thanks to the Theivery of Marylands General Assembly and the dummies who don’t know a thing.

    • E Nicholson June 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm · Reply

      Exactly A. J. Fox. That’s one of the key reasons I oppose this bill. It has *significant* hidden costs. Each illegal (aka “undocumented”) student has an opportunity cost of $16,415. I am a UMCP graduate and I want to ensure that the school continues to offer a high quality degree. The only trouble is that costs money. And $16,415 per illegal student WILL add up. I was a graduate TA and $16,415 was about 90% of my stipend. I ran a weekly recitation session for 30 kids and helped them will any questions they had. If you take money away from the UMCP system as this bill will do, the quality of education *will* go down. This is a fact. Aside from taking much needed funds away from UMCP, this bill also encourages illegal immigration and is not a prudent use of funds because the illegal students will not be able to work legally in the U.S. upon completion of their degree.
      I feel bad for those young illegal aliens but not bad enough to drain the UMD System of funds.

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