Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ apply in droves for new program, thousands now expected to attend college

Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ apply in droves for new program, thousands now expected to attend college

Immigrant students wait at Casa center.

Immigrant students gather at Casa de Maryland.

Immigrant students gather at Casa de Maryland.

By Glynis Kazanjian

The energy, excitement and raw emotion was undeniable as an estimated 1,000 “dreamers” showed up at CASA de Maryland’s Langley Park center Wednesday for its inaugural application clinic, kicking off President Obama’s new deferred deportation program.

The new federal policy – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which bypassed Congress and was approved by executive order, would grant two-year deportation reprieves to up to 1.7 million eligible illegal immigrants in the U.S. aged 15 to 30. Applicants could also qualify for employment authorization.

Gustavo Torres, Casa’s executive director, said in total he expects to sign up 10,000 “dreamers,” of which 80% to 90% he believed would go on to college. “The great majority of dreamers are high school students,” Torres said. “Eighty to ninety percent of them will go on to college. Those kids, they are our future. That was our dream.”

Many more than legislature estimated

Torres’ estimate is a far cry from the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) Dream Act estimate of 366 students in 2011, when in-state tuition for illegal immigrants was approved by the General Assembly. The DLS fiscal note estimated taxpayer subsidies amount to about $2,000 per student for in-state, community college students.

If the actual figure is 8,000 rather than 366 immigrant students benefiting from in-state tuition, the cost of the program is potentially tens of millions more than initially estimated.

A petition drive put the new law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition in Maryland on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters to decide in a statewide referendum.

Oswaldo Ruiz applies for immigration program.

Oswaldo Ruiz applies for immigration program.

While endless dreamers waited outside to receive their admittance ticket, Oswaldo Ruiz, a 19-year Brentwood man, was inside and the first to fill out a deferred action application. Ruiz, a recent graduate and ROTC student at Bladensburg High School, said he was ready to pursue his degree.

“I was thinking to go to college, but I was not able to because of my Social Security,” Ruiz said while taking a break to show off his USA t-shirt and ROTC trophy. “Oh wow, I’m so excited now. When I look at those people who have helped me, I am motivated to get my degree. I want to do the same thing for this country too.”

Other dreamers were equally excited outside, despite the hours it would take to wait to fill out their paperwork with CASA’s legal and volunteer staff.

“We are just so happy,” said 22-year-old Karla Ramirez of Riverdale. “We are very excited to be here. We have a green light. Of course we are going to college now. We just can’t wait to be professional.”

Ramirez’s friend, Luis Tobar, 22, of Bladensburg, shared her enthusiasm. “We’re finally stepping out of the shadows. We aren’t afraid now. We were before.”


Suleyma Ramirez, 21, of Riverdale  Karla Ramirez, 22, Riverdale , Luis Tobar, 22, Bladensburg, and Francisco Pineda, 21, of Hyattsville wait to sign up for new immigration program.

Suleyma Ramirez, 21, of Riverdale, Karla Ramirez, 22, Riverdale, Luis Tobar, 22, Bladensburg, and Francisco Pineda, 21, of Hyattsville wait to sign up for new immigration program.

Complaints about new immigration policy

While the dreamers were busy dreaming, one opponent of illegal immigration was sounding off about the new measure.

Brad Botwin, executive director of Help Save Maryland, an anti-illegal immigrant advocacy group,  heaped criticism and complaints on the new policy.

“Let the amnesty, fraud and abuse begin,” Botwin said. “I just love seeing our state and local tax dollars at work at CASA de Maryland.”

Casa receives an estimated $2.8 million annually from federal, state and local government funding, according to Torres. Their annual budget is $7 million.

“Even worse than the two-year amnesty, is the two-year work permit,” Botwin continued. CORRECTION “With 8.3% U.S. unemployment, all you’re really doing is potentially adding another two million legal workers illegal immigrants to the unemployment figures. The application fee for the program is $465, that’s about a one-month unemployment payment.  [The other] eleven months are going to be paid for by you and me.”

(To receive unemployment benefits, applicants need to have previous employment to qualify.)

6th District congressional candidates weigh in

Congressional candidates in Maryland’s most competitive race also weighed in.

Ten-term Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the 6th Congressional District opposed the plan.

“Roscoe Bartlett is a strong supporter of legal immigration, which has granted access to the American Dream to millions of immigrants while respecting the laws of this country,” said Bartlett campaign spokesman Ted Dacey. “He believes strongly, however, that immigrants should enter this country through legal channels and does not believe we should reward people for breaking the law.”

Bartlett’s Democratic opponent, political newcomer John Delaney, said the measure was a temporary fix to a problem that needed long-term solutions.

“On immigration, Congress has been unwilling to act despite record increases in border enforcement, deportations, a talent drain, and the enormity of the situation generally,” Delaney said in a statement. “This temporary action is not a long term solution, which can only come once Congress stops its partisan bickering and finds common ground on important new immigration policy.”

Delaney is on record supporting the federal Dream Act and the Maryland Dream Act, while Bartlett opposes both.

Torres said Casa de Maryland will continue to accept applications on an on-going basis every Wednesday and Saturday,

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. JJ

    Okay i see the main problem with high tuition cost, but also factor in that college is for those who want to pursue a better career and what gives you the right to turn down another human beings chance to do so? Not only that, going to college shouldn’t be a privilege going to college, it should be a hard earned motivation to more opportunities. There are millions of students right now taking federal loans for college tuition that reaches from thousands of dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars. While the student on deferred action gets no federal loans and grants, the students who does go to college will receive a high debt after graduation, and not only that, the employment rate for these recent graduates will not be any better than anywhere else. So if you think one student should have the right to go to college, you are gravely mistaken. We have more foreign kids coming from China, Vietnam, France, and etc going to ivy league schools and you worry about the illegal immigrants taking the opportunity from your own kids. Heck, I think college should be based on the grades that one gets from high school instead on the base of your skin and where you came from, then you will understand that being American is not any different from being Chinese, Mexican, or the so called illegals. I respect you opinion and I just wished that more people won’t resort to it as an illegal problem but rather a failing system of government.

  2. TrueAmerican

    Please don’t believe the fallacies. While students eligible for the Maryland Dream Act will pay instate tuition, they will NOT take any of the instate slots for these colleges and universities. Furthermore, to be eligible, they will have had to filed/paid taxes for 3 to 5 years in the state of Maryland. If they and their parents are working (as many of them are), they are already paying to subsidize the education system and other social institutions.

    Brad Botwin, please stop spreading lies. Your information is inaccurate.

  3. Dale McNamee

    Thanks to everyone for the explanation of the differences between “in-state vs. out of state ” tuition !

    But, I’m still wondering why the taxpayers are held responsible for the differences and not the colleges and universities ? Especially, when some Maryland taxpayers whose children are attending out of state colleges & universities, are paying higher costs there ?
    Not to mention those who don’t have any college age children or are childless ?

    These are excellent reasons for ending the practice…

  4. Angel Sue Davis Lankford

    My husband and both of my Daughters are having to pay back for their school loans to go to College and they are Americans.Also my husband is a Vet.Yet American taxpayer’s have to pay for the illegals to come to our Country and get free schooling and all of the other freebies.This makes me so upset to see what’s happening to the American people while our government and people in charge is letting this happen.If they want this to happen and give them free schooling then let them pay for it out of their paychecks.I’m down with paying for others!!!

  5. BajaRat

    Let’s see here…. unemployment is through the roof, the economy is in
    the tank, citizens are having a rough time feeding their families, and
    this loathsome tin pot dictator in the White House illegally and
    unconstitutionally amnesties a couple million deportable illegal alien
    parasites by edict….AND orders work permits for them so they can
    compete for scarce jobs? W-T-F! Comrade ObaMao ought to be in
    impeachment proceedings at this very moment and getting to work
    preparing for an extremely long prison sentence…. at Gitmo. His
    treason is the biggest act of domestic terrorism ever perpetrated
    against the American people. Thanks to Comrade O we now have a population infested with criminal parasites masquerading as victims who think they can walk on water.

  6. Dale McNamee

    Can anybody explain the logic behind “out of state tuition” ? Given the expenses that an out of state student already experiences, why should they pay increased tuition and course fees, especially if they are living off-campus ? I don’t see any additional strain on “college campus “resources”…

    What out of state students who want to go to Maryland colleges should do is earn their degrees on line and save the expense of “college campus culture”…

    • lenlazarick

      Dale, the out of state tuition is to make up for the more than $1 billion taxpayers give to the university system.

  7. jlksdfjs

    “If the actual figure is 8,000 rather than 366 immigrant students
    benefiting from in-state tuition, the cost of the program is potentially
    tens of millions more than initially estimated.”

    What a disgrace. Remember to vote to stop this travesty. The tax payers of Maryland can not afford this waste.

    • BajaRat

      We’re talking about illegal alien parasites here…. you know, criminals. Comrade O can call them fajitas if he wants to, but they are now and will forever remain invaders regardless of his unconstitutional edict. Face it, folks, by doing this that no good SOB in the White House flipped you and your family off big time.

  8. Paul

    The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at a Maryland community college is approximately $6,000 per year. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at a Maryland university is as much as $16,000 per year. So, if 8,000 Dreamers get AA degrees at community colleges, that’s a $96 million-dollar subsidy by Maryland taxpayers. If they then go on to 2 more years at a university to get a bachelors, that’s a $352 million subsidy.

    Not to mention that 8,000 Maryland residents don’t get into the university of their choice. A university they and their parents and maybe even their grandparents and greatgrandparents helped pay for.

    • abby_adams

      Details, details. Don;t you realize we aren’t supposed to question! Just suck it up or be labeled bigots, racists, etc. The

  9. Cecil Calvert

    I am sick and tired of these Illegal Aliens doing whatever they want while breaking the law, they should be tarred and feathered and sent back to mexico or where ever, go watch the movie they come to america where it discusses how these dreamers dont even want to be american citizens. They want degrees, then work, even though they cant get a job with those degrees and send the money home. This makes me sick and disgusted with Maryland and the United Stats, screw the rule of law, this country is overrun with Communists and Stalinistic Laws. Casa De Maryland is a Criminal Organization that runs Marylands State House and should be investigated, as they get funding from know Terrorist, Hugo Chavez and The Iranian Leader, Achmadinijad (Spelling)

    • The Truth

      I think these pompous “citizens” like calvert whose ancestors committed the world’s largest genocide by killing off almost an entire race of Native Americans should shut up. I could easily say they should be tarred and feathered, but that would put me in the same boat as these heathens who don’t even care about the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the rest of the Constitution, since they want to “screw the rule of law.” This country is overrun with stupid moronic anarchists who like to name-calling without knowing the least bit about what they are talking about. Go to school and learn to spell correctly and not use run-on sentences. Who knows, tax money payed by an illegal alien might even help you get an education.

      • JohnnieM

        Hey TRUTH, you woudn’t know the truth if it grabbed you by the _ _ _ _.

        • I am the Truth and the Light

          I feel sorry for your sorry. I truly do. One lifetime of ignorance.

    • Celeste Sylva

      These “Illegal aliens” as you call them are human beings. Your opinion comes from movie you chose to watch because you knew it would be biased. You need someone or something to validate your inhumane views. I am an American and I am proud of these brave young people who stand up to bigots like you. They are winning because it’s just! You want to close every door to them so that you can accuse them of breaking the law. This is America. Land of FREE and home of the BRAVE. These dreamers are the definition of that. You with your “tarred and feathered” comment belong on the same list as Chavez.

      • JohnnieM

        They are breaking the law. They are criminals. Their parents broke the law in coming here. So, we’re supposed to reward criminals and penalize our own citizens by making them pay higher taxes to support these illegals!!!!! I don’t think so. We are FED UP with idiots like you defending them. Or are you illegal yourself? You say these dreamers are BRAVE. What is so brave about crying and demanding rights you shouldn’t have just because your parents wanted to game the system. There’s nothing brave about that. That is being too lazy to go through the proper channels to become citizens like lots of others have done. Even if their parents brought them here, they have had many YEARS to do the right thing and BECOME a citizen, but they chose not to. I don’t feel sorry one bit for them! I feel sorry for the rest of us who are being SCREWED by this illegal administration. November will be time to drain the swamp.

        • JJ

          Okay so what your saying is that we need to remove the illegal immigrants from this country? If that happened, the Irish would have been removed from Staten Island, the Africans sent back to the motherland, and the British would be back in England, the real inhabitants of this country is the Native Americans. And most of them didn’t have the proper system to go through immigration, the Irish for example left a poverty nation because of the economic failure in their country. Most of them were treated like garbage when Irish flooded the streets of New York and were considered dirty ‘animals’, yet they still became a US citizen, with no proper immigration system, no proper identification, yet they still became US citizens.

      • BajaRat

        I don’t give a sh*t if these stinkin’ illegals are mushrooms…. they still need to be rounded up and deported. “The brave” don’t violate US laws and sneak into the country to squat and filch, and then whine that it’s their parents fault/ What are the chances that the parents will ever get the boot now that the treasonous prick in the White House illegally granted these rotten parasites de facto amnesty? It’s an invasion by trickery and treachery. Obama ought to be in prison.

        • leemehnah

          Nincompoop! Where did your ancestors come from? Let’s deport you, too! And your filthy offspring who are probably scratching their bellies between drunken bouts and doping binges, and will never see the inside of a university classroom. Competing for your jobs? Ha! while you are picking your broken putrid teeth and scratching your lice-riddled mullet and sitting on your 300lb of lard, these New Americans will become neurosurgeons, physicists, real estate entrepreneurs, business moguls. You and your ilk don’t have the cojones to make this country better, they do! Quit your whining loser!

  10. pooh

    one persons dream is a another persons nightmare of more taxes for an already overtaxed system and sad school system for those already here…..years of promised gambling money for schools in baltimore have not happened ….the gov and state will promise and say anything for votes………..if an army invaded usa they would probly make them citizens too. irish eyes are lying.
    whats new.

  11. abby_adams

    Was there every any doubt the figures projected by the fed & state gov on this issue were low balled to counter act opposing views & votes? What does it mean to be US citizen? In the current administration, state & fed, not much. The laws that apply to us do not apply to protected classes “du jour”. Welcome to surfdom America, where you obey the ever changing rules set down by pandering politicians without question or else.

    • BajaRat

      The Bush’s, the vile Clintons, and this God awful treasonous POS currently in the White House are all globalists. You know, puppets run by big biz, parasitic vermin like hedge fund hyena and notorious crooks George Soros, Queen Beatrix, the Bilderbergers, discredited trash like the UN and CFR,etc. Comrade O is an enemy because he is a traitor and a swine. Big time.

  12. Help Save Maryland

    Here are the facts about In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants:
    In- State Tuition is not free:
    Taxpayers must cover the difference between Out-of-State Tuition and the much lower In-State Tuition rates as illegal immigrants displace out-of-state students attending Maryland universities. At the University of Maryland College Park it would cost $17,000 per illegal immigrant student per year. Tuition costs will go up for all students!

    Deserving Maryland students displaced:
    Maryland universities average about 23% of their student population as Out-of-State, but are authorized to levels up to 30%. As the In-State Illegal Immigrant student population explodes, universities will be forced to displace thousands of In-State Citizen students rather than lucrative Out-of-State students!

    File taxes not pay taxes: Illegal immigrants only need to file tax returns, not pay taxes to qualify for In-State Tuition — most already file for the child and poverty tax credits. Foreign tourists visiting Maryland pay more in taxes than non-citizens and tourists don’t use our public schools, colleges, jails or social services.

    Subsidizing college education for non-citizens is a bad investment: Federal law prohibits hiring any illegal immigrants – they also can’t legally vote or obtain a Maryland drivers’ license. However, illegal immigrants in Maryland can simply pay the out-of-state tuition rates if they desire a higher education, just like international students had they stayed in their home country.

    There are over 300,000 and growing illegal immigrants in Maryland, thousands could qualify for In-State Tuition now and in the future. ?Costs to subsidize their college education will be in the tens, possibly hundreds of millions. Struggling Maryland taxpayers already pay too much!

    Brad Botwin, Director

    Help Save

    PO Box 5742

    Rockville, MD 20855



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