Ending its legislative session on a positive note, our neighboring state of Maryland passed an in-state tuition bill for undocumented on Monday. The bill now goes to the desk of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign the legislation into law.
Lawmakers in Maryland should be commended for choosing an approach that is smart and compassionate. In creating a path that would allow undocumented youth to afford an education, Maryland lawmakers are bolstering the state’s economic future; however, they are also giving hope to scores of immigrant youth, acknowledging that though they may not have the papers to prove it, they are a part of America.
As State Senator Victor Ramirez of Prince George’s County noted:
“It was never about immigration. It’s about what to do with the intellect of our children. Do we invest in them, or kick them to the side? The people win with this bill because we’ll have a more educated work force.”
“in-state tuition proposal would enable undocumented students who have attended Maryland high schools for at least three years, and whose families pay state taxes, to pay in-state tuition rates at community college. After completing 60 credit hours — the equivalent of two years of full-time study — a student could transfer to a four-year state college for the in-state rate.”
We especially liked this report from Greenbelt Patch:
Students cheered from the gallery and hugged and prayed in the lobby after the bill passed Monday night. Helen Melton, an advocacy specialist at CASA de Maryland, an immigrants’ rights group, said she and a group of students were asked to leave because their “jubilation” got a little too loud.
“The kids were shouting and jumping with excitement in the lobby,” Melton said. “The governor was standing at the top of the stairs (looking down to the lobby) and yelled to the kids that he couldn’t wait to sign the bill into law. The kids went crazy.”