Today, the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing on HB 612, legislation proposed by Delegate Sheila Hixon which will allow illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition benefits normally reserved for legal Marylanders. We also do not offer any tuition breaks for our fellow Americans who live in neighboring states.
The financial toll that illegal immigrants represent for Maryland is clearly evident. Hospitals end up giving free medical care to illegal immigrants because they lack health insurance, identities are stolen so that illegal immigrants can have a Social Security card, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the taxpayers must pick up the tab for primary and secondary school education for the children of illegal immigrants.
Now, House Democrats are poised to require our colleges and universities to offer illegal immigrants the same price for college if they can prove they went to Maryland high school for two years. In the Golden State, similar legislation was passed and resulted in a class of graduate and undergrad students at the state’s University of California that may have been as high as 30% undocumented.
In addition to the regular arguments against extending the benefits of citizenship to those who are blatantly violating our immigration laws, there are several reasons why this bill is a bad idea. First of all, Maryland post-secondary schools only offer a certain number of slots for students receiving in-state tuition. If HB 612 passes, legal American citizens have less of a chance to attend a Maryland school because in-state tuition slots will be filled with illegal immigrants. Another point to consider is that by passing this bill, we are giving privileges to illegal immigrants that we do not offer to the men and women in our Armed Forces. Currently Maryland does not give in-state tuition to residents serving in the armed forces who are, at best, technically nonresidents.
On the Republican side of the ledger, Delegate Pat McDonough has proposed a different plan, HB 802, which would require that any university or community college first determine the application status of every legal resident who applies for school before offering any in-state breaks to undocumented immigrants, excepting those applying under a valid student visa.
To us, this makes sense. Let’s not provide any special benefits to those who are here because they or their parents broke the law.