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