While each new day brings news of Arizona pursuing a new right-wing anti-immigrant policy, or other states following Arizona’s lead, Maryland is making news by moving the other way.  The Maryland legislature voted this week to guarantee in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, and Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill.  Supporters won support for the bill by including a provision that will steer undocumented students toward community colleges, instead of the state’s flagship school, the University of Maryland.  Students will have to enroll at a community college for two years, thus excluding them from the competitive freshman enrollment process.

The Washington Post reports that, “In this legislative session alone, at least eight states took up bills to extend in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and as many considered bills to deny it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland is the only state this year to pass a bill extending benefits.”  Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia have already moved to deny in-state tuition to undocumented students, and South Carolina bans them from even enrolling in the state’s colleges.

Undocumented students are not eligible for aid or scholarships, so tuition breaks offer these students possibly their only hope of attending college.  “Proponents of tuition breaks say such laws are both ethical and practical.  Illegal immigrant families pay taxes that fund resident subsidies, they say, and denying them college access arguably hurts the local economy.”  The federal DREAM Act has no chance of passing the Republican controlled House, so it’s good to see that some individual states recognize the value in making college available for all residents, regardless of immigration status.

Photo Credit: WAMU




  1. Delaware Bob says:

    AMAZING! Illegal aliens don’t belong in this country and Maryland votes to give the illegal aliens in-state tuition. What a disgrace! What they should be doing is passing laws to get rid of the illegal aliens like other state are doing.

    • andrea says:

      you are nothing but a racist ignorant and inconsideret person. first of all this coutry will be nothing with out spanish people who does all the dirty work that all you lazy people wont do ? who works the hardest and gets things done the fatest and at times even better than what others will we pay taxes and spend money as well as you all do and with out spanish people the united states economy will be down to the floor spnish people could all unite and take over this country because there is a lot of spanish people here but spnish people dont do that because thats not what they are here for they are here because they cant have a good life in their countries becaus they want to give their kids a better life and education and they want to live better lifes not because they are trying to take anything away from you guys open your damn eyes and stop being so ignorant because first of all this isnt even your damn country this country belongs to the indians the ones who found it and first walked on this country a while ago stop being so selfish and realize how bad this country will be with out all this spanish people its doesnt matter where your from we are all humans and desrve the same rights. and you know what its stupid how you all dont agree with spanish people coming here but yet you guys can go to spanish courties and no spanish countries miss treat you guys or kick you out most of the times you are welcome. their is spanish students in this country that get better grades than any of you and that are very smart and hardworking but just because they dont have a social security number they can go to to college and become the next best doctor or whatever. this country has some of the most stupid people ever !

      • Joel Wischkaemper says:

        Ahh Andrea….Isn’t it wonderful… multiculturalism in action. The ..real.. meaning of multiculturalism right here in the Harvard Law Review. It is wonderful.

        But it would be far, far more wonderful if we could have a direct method of gonging the people who pass such laws right out of office.

        • Noah Kaplan says:

          Joel, we are not the Harvard Law Review. We are the Harvard Civil Right-Civil Liberties Law Review. We are completely separate publications, though both are Harvard student edited journals.

          The people of Maryland had the opportunity to voice their opinions when they elected their state representatives and will have the opportunity again when they are asked to re-elect them. If the people of Maryland disagree with this policy, they will have the opportunity to vote for people that will change it.

  2. Brad Botwin says:

    Maryland citizens will have the final word as to whether or not illegal alien students receive in-state college tuition.

  3. Noah Kaplan says:

    Brad, it’s important to note that this is the action of the Maryland legislature, not the courts. The legislators are elected by the people of Maryland and represent the interests of the people of Maryland. This is the people of Maryland having the final word.

    Bob, remember that the 9th Circuit has already upheld the injunction against the Arizona provisions allowing local law enforcement to enforce immigration provisions as possibly preempted by federal authority over immigration. Other states are trying to follow suit, but are likely to face the same consequence. Essentially any law passed by a state that attempts to regulate immigration may make a nice sound bite for a politician, but it won’t make any difference in enforcement.

    Whether or not undocumented immigrants “belong here,” they are here, and state legislatures need to act in the best interest of their state. An action like granting in-state tuition has no effect on the job market, or crime, or any of the other typical responses to measures that may benefit undocumented immigrants. Instead, it helps to ensure that the state of Maryland doesn’t have a permanent underclass that is uneducated and therefore requires taxpayer expenditures on social services. More people in college is good for the state of Maryland. The state loses nothing, because these students wouldn’t be able to go to college at all without this bill, and gains a greater proportion of their state population that is college educated and can participate in improving the future of Maryland.

  4. Mad says:

    The politicians of Maryland are not representing the conscience or interest of their constituents. They voted for the Dream Act to stay in office by securing the Latino vote.

    Second, Maryland has made it more appealing for illegal aliens to flock to Maryland. We will be giving in state tuition to aliens that have no right to be here while we will not give the same rate to a US Citizen from any other state. Further, Maryland taxpayers are subsidizing the reduced tuition and no matter what anyone says, all colleges have a finite number of seats. Illegal aliens will be stealing seats away from US Citizens and legal immigrants. So Maryland is promoting the wellfare of the illegal aliens at the expense of people that belong here and are entitled to every benefit available. How are you not seeing this?

    I’m all for higher education but how can you expect us to pay/subsidize for illegal aliens to obtain higher educations when we can’t afford to pay for our own kids to attend? Why don’t these adult illegal aliens return to their home counties for a higher education? And how in the world are the parents of these Dream Act recipients filling tax returns without having valid social security numbers? Remember, they are illegal aliens too.

  5. Noah Kaplan says:

    Mad, if the legislators are acting to secure the Latino vote, they are representing their constituents. You may not like that the demographics of that constituency are changing, but a Latino voter is just as much as part of the constituency of a Maryland state legislator as any other voter.

    I think it’s unrealistic to assume that undocumented immigrants will flood Maryland because of a change in college tuition rates. I think the number of students potentially affected by this change is small, and I think there aren’t many people who are going to move and establish residency in Maryland so that their children can attend Maryland community colleges at in-state tuition paid for without federal loans or scholarships.

    Undocumented immigrants are tax payers as well, and they don’t have the ability to access many of the services paid for by their tax dollars. By nature of living in Maryland, they are paying state and local sales taxes at least, which support education.

    Ultimately, if the problem is that not enough spots in colleges are available and college tuition is not affordable enough for the average family, the answer is to design systems that increase the availability of a college education through expansion of low-cost community colleges and through greater availability of financial aid. No one who works hard in an American high school should be barred from attending college simply because their parents chose to come to this country illegally. These students did not participate in that choice, and educating them is the best plan for ensuring a healthy future for Maryland.

  6. Mike Kraft says:

    Your argument has so many holes sir.

    “if the legislators are acting to secure the Latino vote, they are representing their constituents.”

    Illegal immigrants (the correct term) are not their constituents. Voters and american legal residents are. They are the representation of the Aamerican people, not Illegal immigrants. The vote of one american citizen needs to outweigh the wishes of even 1M illegals, since anyone choosing to represent non-americans over americans is essentially in office siding with th needs of foreign nations. IE Traitor.

    Next, anything you do to make you state comfortable for illegal aliens will attract them will do just that.

    Next, this is prevent a permnant underclass you say? But they can only goto CC? Sounds hypocritical. And shouldn’t criminals be an underclass? We cry caus they hide in the shadows…right on TV in marches, nice shadows.

    But isnt someone breaking US Federal law suppose to hide from authorities?

    Lastly, the liberal argument about “they pay taxes” is such a sad lie. Sales taxes? Can we all please only pay sales taxes and that counts as good enough?

    You get our tres secratary (tax evader) to send every american back their federal and state taxes for the last 10 years, and then wed be on even ground with the illegals.

    Perhaps you should be my family of legal hispanic immigrants whos wages get depressed by the illegals hired in every corner of blue collar america?

    Perhaps when we allow illegal immigrants free access to harvard or allow them to run for congress….then when its the “ruling class” losing their job or having to compete with criminals/leeches they will wake up to the negative effects of 20Million people who can change ID’s, operate with no SS# and close down over a dozen south california hostpitals in the last 5 years due to bankrupting the health care system so many “University” liberals say is so urgently in need of help.

    • Noah Kaplan says:

      “Illegal immigrant” is not the correct term. It’s a pejorative, derogatory term with no real meaning. A person cannot be illegal. An act can be illegal. A person can enter the country illegally, at which time, they are an undocumented immigrant. Just as would not call a thief an illegal taker, it is incorrect to refer to a person who enters the country illegally as an illegal immigrant.

      You seem to be under the impression that all Hispanics in this country are here illegally. In fact, Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the country, even if you only count documented immigrants. I don’t disagree with you that legislators should be swayed be voters, rather than their own feelings toward people that don’t vote, but I think you assume that all voters think like you. Any politician or political party that wants to remain relevant over the next few decades needs to be very cognizant of Hispanic voters, which is exactly what is demonstrated by this action.

      You obviously assume your own point to be obviously true again when you state that “anything you do to make you state comfortable for illegal aliens will attract them will do just that.” A one sentence paragraph stating your own view does not go far to prove your point.

      I don’t think any state has an interest in a permanent underclass. Criminals should not be relegated to a permanent underclass, unless your goal is to perpetuate crime. Our goal should to create opportunities for people, even ones who have committed crimes in the past, to advance and participate in society in a productive way.

      Participants in this program must start in a community college, so that they are not competing in the freshmen admissions process at the competitive state universities. After two years in community college, they can transfer to four-year universities and earn a degree.

      I’m not suggesting that undocumented immigrants pay taxes equivalent to others, only that they do pay taxes. States and localities finance education largely through sales and property taxes. Any person living in a state, paying for a place to live, and buying the items they need is paying taxes and supporting state public education. Why shouldn’t they be able to benefit from it, and meanwhile improve the state’s educated labor force?

      • Joel Wischkaemper says:

        You can make up all the words you want, and all the definitions you want. But folks.. if you are going to use them in a publication or a paper, make sure you look them up before you insert your feet in your mouth.

        Illegal immigration
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Illegal immigration is the migration of foreign citizens into a country in circumstances where such people do not meet the legal requirements for immigrating in that country, that is, when they are violating the immigration laws of that jurisdiction.

        It is usually called “illegal immigration,” however the term “irregular immigration” is now considered the preferred terminology by international governmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the United Nations agency the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and others.[1][2][3][4] “Unauthorized immigration” is another term which is occasionally used to refer to this form of migration. The term “undocumented immigration” is used as well, though it is considered less inclusive than “irregular immigration.”[5]

        • Noah Kaplan says:

          Joel, I can’t tell whether you are agreeing with me or correcting me. I wasn’t objecting to the term “illegal immigration” as the act of immigration without permission can be illegal. I was objecting to the term “illegal immigrant” and particularly just “illegal” when used to describe a person, as a person cannot be illegal. The fact that the term has a definition on Wikipedia simply means that it is term that some people use and may desire more information about, but as the post points out, there are other preferred terms.

  7. Fan of Noah says:

    I just want to write in and thank Noah for adding sense to what seem to be nothing more than racist, gut-reaction comments with little reason involved. The world needs more open-minded, thoughtful people like yourself.

    What many people fail to realize is that most undocumented students that are seeking to attend college and better their lives did not choose to come to America, they were brought here by their parents or other family members. While I can say that the parents have done illegal acts, I cannot say so for the children. I do not know any child who can comprehend the notion that “if I do what my parents tell me, I am breaking the immigration laws of the United States of America.” I do no know any DREAMer who understood this notion and consciously objected to immigrate to the United States illegally.

    I am certain that any opposition to this or other laws aiding these students is not from a sense of justice or legality but rather an underlying racism which has always been a part of American tradition. None of your gut-reaction, immigration opposing, views are new. Maybe you should all do some research into our failed attempts to exclude Catholics, Germans, Irish (I’m sure you’re all familiar with patty wagons), Asians such as the Chinese (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) and the Japanese and I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of our issues with African Americans (there was a point where they were not citizens either).

    Despite my lack of faith in our current Congress, due to many failed attempts to pass the DREAM Act and afford remedy to these otherwise law-abiding citizens, I am confident that as history tends to repeat itself, these anti-immigrant laws and views will be overcome when we find someone new to hate. Some have suggested that homosexuals will be our new target but who knows.

    While I find it sad that our nation continues to be troubled by waves of hatred and racism. It is only a matter of time before America’s popular movements decide it is time to hate someone else.

    Thank you Noah for countering these age-old attitudes with cold hard facts and truths.

  8. Lenin Alejandro Espinoza Valerio says:

    Respecto a la ley que da como alterntiva y como derecho supremo la inscripcion de los indocumentados a inscribirse a una institucion educativa y recibir clases conforme a la curricula que se le imponga, es a mi juicio valida, toda vez que se ve reflejado en el, el principio universal reconocido en los tratados internacionales como es la proteccion integral de niño y del adolescente que no es otra cosa “que el interes superior del niño y adolescente” sobre cualquier norma, lo que deverian siempre cautelar las autoridades, que en la actualidad hacen caso omiso, y espero que ahora los estado que recogen dicha ley la apliquen sin discriminacion alguna indistintamente de la procedecia de las familias ilegales que residen en ese país.

  9. Lenin Alejandro Espinoza Valerio says:

    With regard to the law that gives illegal immigrants an option and a supreme right to enroll in an educational institution and receive classes according to the curriculum being imposed, in my opinion it is valid, since it is reflects a universally recognized principle in international treaties that integral to the protection of children and adolescents is “that the best interests of children and adolescents” is above all else, which the authorities currently ignore, and I hope that now the state will apply the law without any discrimination irrespective of the illegal status of families residing in that country.

    • Noah Kaplan says:

      Thank you for your comment. I made some minor edits to the Google translation just to fix some things that it did not fully translate. I hope I captured a full translation of your thoughts.

      Gracias por su comentario. He hecho algunas pequeñas modificaciones a la traducción de Google para arreglar algunas cosas que no se reflejó plenamente. Espero que me capturó una traducción completa de sus pensamientos.

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