Thursday, May 23, 2024

Maryland pushes for Its Own Dream Act

The state Senate in Maryland is set to vote on a version of the Dream Act today that would give undocumented students the opportunity to attend a four-year university in the state and qualify for in-state tuition if they graduate from a Maryland high school.

The bill, SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Victor Ramirez, the first Latino state senator in the state’s history, would require students to first attend a community college within the high school’s jurisdiction and prove that taxes were paid by the student, parent or legal guardian three years before entering college.

“We want the strongest and most educated work force possible,” Ramirez said.

The students would also be required to sign an affidavit stating they will apply for legal residency when they are eligible and must show proof of paid state income taxes while attending community college.

In a Washington Post editorial today the bill was praised “for addressing the reality that the undocumented are here to stay, and pushing for measures that will make them more productive members of society.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the past that states must provide free public education to students through high school no matter what their legal status in the country is, but higher education for undocumented students has been determined mostly at the state level.  A version of the DREAM Act at the federal level passed in the House but ultimately failed after Republicans blocked the measure from a vote in the Senate during the lame duck session in December.

Up to ten states have drawn up their own laws to address the issue within their borders and have passed laws allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, including Texas, California and New York.

“Giving such students a leg up by granting them reduced, in-state tuition rates could give them a brighter, more affluent future, benefiting their communities, their states and the nation,” says the Washington Post. “That’s the idea behind the Maryland Dream Act, modeled on federal legislation that failed in Congress.”

If it passes in the Senate today, the next step for the Maryland DREAM Act will be a vote in the House chamber.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that states must offer free education through high school for undocumented students. Why should they then segregate some college-quality students from others, simply because of a decision their parents may have made years earlier? That’s not just unfair; it’s also self-defeating,” the Washington Post concluded.

Silver Spring Patch

Hispanically Speaking News

Washington Post