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Legislation Both the Right Thing and the Smart Thing to Do
Yesterday, both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland DREAM Act and invested in their state’s future. The bill now goes to the desk of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign the legislation into law, making good on his longstanding commitment to bring Maryland communities together and vote in the best interests of the state.
According to Adam Luna of America’s Voice, “By investing in the potential of all Maryland students, lawmakers have bolstered the state’s economic future. Maryland lawmakers deserve applause for voting with the majority of Marylanders who support the DREAM Act. Their foresight and reasonableness should serve as a model for the nation to show that we all benefit when common sense prevails over immigrant bashing, intolerance and fear.”
The Baltimore Sun summarized the legislation, noting that the “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.”
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.”
Under the leadership of the state’s largest immigrant rights group, CASA de Maryland, and courageous undocumented youth; along with the hard work of allies such as the Industrial Areas Foundation, the Maryland Catholic Conference, and so many other groups, colleges, teachers, students and communities of faith, Maryland students will now have equal educational opportunities, regardless of their immigration status.
The Maryland DREAM Act, which benefits the state economy, stands in sharp contrast to a host of short-sighted bills percolating through legislatures in states like Florida and Georgia and in the U.S. Congress which take aim at immigrant communities, and which would cost taxpayers millions. The federal DREAM Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December of last year and won a majority of votes in the Senate, but was blocked by Republican filibuster. Congress should take note of the progress in Maryland and redouble efforts to pass the federal DREAM Act so that talented young people can further their educations, join the military or work legally, and continue to give back to the only country they know as home.
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.