From the Maryland Senate Republicans:
This morning, Republican Senators challenged the basic assumptions of advocates proposing a bill to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Debate on amendments to the bill will continue when the Senate reconvenes at 5:00 p.m. today (Wednesday).
Senate Bill 167 Public Institutions of Higher Education-Tuition Rates-Exemptions is on second reader on the Senate floor. In an unusual move, the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee retracted the committee amendments that had been offered on the bill last Friday and introduced a new set of amendments that had been considered by the committee on Tuesday afternoon.
Minority Whip E.J. Pipkin outlined multiple ways in which the bill violates federal law. The federal code provides that “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State for
any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”
Citing from an Attorney General letter of advice, the floor leader responded that under federal law the bill is “not preempted, provided that the bill is amended to expressly reflect that it is intended to provide benefits for persons who are
not lawfully present in the United States” and eligibility is tied to a factor other than “legal residence,” such as attendance at a Maryland high school and filing a statement showing that Maryland income tax was withheld.
In response to claims by proponents of the bill that higher education was being denied to children in the state, Senator David Brinkley stated, “This is not about denial of education to students. The students have the ability to attend state colleges and universities – the question is who will pay? In a time of strapped state budgets, many states are considering repeal of existing laws granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants because of the enormous costs to state and local budgets.”
Republican Senators also challenged the claims that the proposed legislation was a job creation bill. Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs concluded, “It is ironic that we are spending the dollars of law-abiding taxpayers to fund the education and
training of illegal immigrants who are then ineligible for the jobs because they are not lawfully present in our State.”
The favorable committee report was adopted by a Senate vote of 28-18. The Senate will go back in session at 5:00 p.m. today to consider additional amendments to the bill.