From the office of Sen. J.B. Jennings:
In-state tuition for illegal immigration is certainly not a new issue in Maryland. In 2003, the General Assembly passed a bill (HB253) that not only entitled illegal immigrants to in-state tuition rates but also expanded the scope to United States military personnel and their children. Then former Governor Bob Ehrlich vetoed the bill, preventing it from becoming law. Of course, that didn’t stop my fellow legislators from reintroducing this issue year after year.
As a delegate, I remember sitting in the House Ways and Means committee nearly three years ago listening to lawmakers, special interest groups, and Maryland citizens lobbying for and against the bill. Fortunately, it never made it out of committee for a vote. Yet this bill’s advocates continue to push the issue, and here we are again.
My position on this topic has not waivered, not even once. Plainly said, I’m against it. This legislation would entitle illegal immigrants to in-state tuition rates in the state of Maryland, despite the fact that they are clearly not residents. In fact, not only are they not residents of our state, they are not residents of our great nation. To allow them the same rights we grant to citizens and legal immigrants is to enable and reward poor decisions and illegal activity.
The other issue this raises is the fact that these illegal immigrants would essentially be taking seats in a classroom away from taxpaying residents. It’s hard enough to get into college, especially in the state of Maryland where our schools are top rate. Competition is fierce. What would we be saying to our young people by taking hard-earned admissions away from them and giving them to people who are breaking the law?
Technically speaking, federal immigration law prohibits illegal immigrants from obtaining a postsecondary education benefit. However, certain states have found loopholes in the law. Several state legislatures have successfully enacted legislation that provides these benefits for illegal immigrants based on where a student went to high school, not immigration status. Ironically, at least four have since considered repealing such legislation. A little buyer’s remorse, perhaps?
The question remains: why are so many states and legislators so adamant about enacting these entitlements for lawbreakers? Why do they insist on going against the very fiber of our constitution, the fabric of our laws? We should be focusing our time and efforts on enforcing our laws, not helping people get around them.