April 13, 2001: Maryland joined the list of States to pass the DREAM Act and grant In-State tuition to undocumented high school graduates. However by May, Maryland high school seniors affected by the legislation lost their dream. Had anti-activists failed to collect the necessary signatures to put the DREAM Act on the November 2012 ballot, the law would have allowed undocumented children to qualify for in-state tuition at universities, colleges and community colleges. Maryland taxpayers are already investing in these children from K-12 public education and despite criticism it is in the best interest of Maryland’s economy to continue this investment rather than letting our taxpayer dollars go to waste. There are safeguards to ensure the intent of in-state tuition is upheld in that parents are required to pay taxes and students must have attended three years of a State high school.
Critics of the DREAM Act paint proponents as using the same old tired playbook that includes parading the best and the brightest high school students in front of Congress like PETA advertisements of polar bear cubs. The counter movement subscribes to the belief that in-state tuition is amnesty that rewards and encourages more illegal immigration. Both sides of the isle can agree that current immigration policy in the U.S. biggest contribution to its citizens is anger. And when you smell smoke, there is usually a big pile of burning jealously, hatred, and free time around the corner. The battle has become personal and the statistics are drawn down party lines.
Maryland’s Department of Legislatives Services estimated the State would require an additional $3.5 million annually to provide Dreamers with a higher education. However, the White House website states that students inCalifornia who are impacted by the DREAM Act could “add between $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of careers, depending on how many ultimately gain legal status.”
The projections and estimates are vague at best and the DREAM Act can’t promise a ten-fold return on its investment. But we won’t know until we try and the more time an effort spent on blocking the measure will only hinder its success if there is to be any. Hopefully Maryland voters will ensure its future by allowing those students and their families to fulfill their dreams.