April 8, 2011

Tuition for illegal immigrant students gets preliminary House approval

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By Megan Poinski
Megan@MarylandReporter.com

Students in favor of in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants

Students in favor of in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants have lobbied legislators for weeks.

After a marathon 2½ hours of sometimes acrimonious debate and a dozen failed amendments, the House of Delegates Thursday afternoon gave preliminary approval to a bill giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition at community colleges and state universities.

The bill, which passed the Senate on a close vote three weeks ago, allows young illegal immigrants who graduated from Maryland high schools to get tuition at in-state rates. In order to qualify, the student needs to:

* Have attended a Maryland high school for at least three years.

* Show the student’s parents or legal guardian have paid taxes.

* Submit an affidavit saying he or she intends to legally seek citizenship within 30 days of being able to do so.

* Enroll in community college for the first two years.

* Register for the draft with Selective Service.

Del. Anne Kaiser, floor leader for the debate, said that many of the people who the bill would impact came to the country illegally as very young children, and they had no part in the decision to come to the United States illegally.

“Many people think this is a priority, and we are investing in our future,” she said.

Many Republican delegates felt otherwise, and several offered amendments that failed. The losing amendments included:

* Requiring that U.S. citizens can also qualify for in-state tuition under the parameters set out in the bill. Bill proponents argued that this would make it harder for anyone to qualify for in-state tuition, since citizens only need to live in Maryland for 12 months in order to qualify.

* Requiring students to have legal presence in the U.S. to receive scholarships, loans or grants. There is a stand-alone bill to do this working through the committee process, bill proponents said.

* Requiring the comptroller to compare the information submitted to Social Security or tax identification numbers to prove that a parent or guardian is paying taxes. Bill proponents said this violated federal confidentiality law.

* Only giving students in-state tuition if they can submit actual proof of filing for legal status in the United States. Bill proponents said immigration law has too many different processes and timelines for someone to get legal status in order for this to work.

* Requiring annual reports on tuition rates for each student in the program and information on all public aid that student receives. Bill proponents said this is already in the bill.

* Allowing local governments to choose whether or not to support in-state tuition for illegals at their community colleges. Bill proponents said this type of amendment has been rejected at all levels, and there have been no complaints about the bill’s potential cost from any county or community college.

* Requiring the comptroller to verify that each Social Security or tax identification number submitted as proof of paying taxes is valid.

* Changing the bill title to “The Taxpayers’ Tuition Discount Benefit for Illegal Aliens.”

* Substituting the term “illegal alien” for each mention in the bill of “undocumented immigrant individual.”

* Requiring a student to prove eligibility for employment in order to receive a college degree. Bill proponents said this is too much of a burden on the colleges.

* Requiring that a student’s parents or legal guardians have both had taxes withheld and filed income tax returns. Bill proponents said that contractors have no taxes withheld, and there are income categories that do not have to file state taxes.

* Making the bill expire in 2014. Bill proponents said that the issue can be revisited at any point in time.

The bill will come before the House for final consideration on Friday morning.

  • Me

    What is wrong with people in this state?!?!?! Why does someone who, by the very fact they are in this country, is a criminal going to get a break on tuition? There is no more room for do good train of thought they are breaking the law put them on a bus and send them back to where they came from. End of fing story!

    • klok

      first of all not all of them are criminals, get ur facts straight .

  • noneckmd

    I’ll will not vote for one of these bastards that voted for this. I feel sorry for these kids but they are here illegal and should be sent packing along with their parents!

    • Rmullen7

      Agree.

      If you are here ILLEGALLY you are breaking the law. Even 6 year olds can understand this but instead we allow this. Thanks Maryland for raising my taxes so we can give them away to those fugitives.

  • Anonymous

    Providing aid to ILLEGAL INVADERS? Again the political swine in MD don’t know right from wrong. How happy you MD voters must be that those you elected are GIVING YOUR MONEY TO ILLEGALS! MD is again a laughing stock! BWA-HA-HA-HA!!! Keep raising those taxes so the radical liberals can give it away to their favorites.

  • Abigail Adams

    A pox on the politicians who voted for this bill. You can feel for these students but this bill isn’t really about them or their future in Maryland. It’s about covering for the $6M problem Montgomery CC has over giving out tuition subsidies illegally. Just how gullible do these legislators think we are? They are buying future voters period. As other states begin to get a handle on reigning in spending, MD just keeps digging the hole deeper. The ideology will never change until the few taxpayers left in MD rise up. Some will use the ballot box, but more will vote with their feet & abandon MD ASAP.

  • Sandy T

    According to Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of Illegal is-” :not according to or authorized by law : unlawful, illicit”
    Why are we condoning this? It is a slap in the face to all legal immigrants who have fought so hard to live and abide our laws. It is
    actions like this that make me ashamed to live in this state!

  • Rmullen7

    Even though there are many complicated requirements, it sends the wrong message. We can’t condone rewarding those who skirt the system. How about we take the money and subsidize our own who have to pay tuition?