Undocumented Immigrants Get In-State Tuition In Md. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Undocumented Immigrants Get In-State Tuition In Md.

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Maryland high school student Daniel Sanchez shows his support for the state's version of the DREAM Act during a hearing in February.
Elliott Francis
Maryland high school student Daniel Sanchez shows his support for the state's version of the DREAM Act during a hearing in February.

To be eligible, the undocumented immigrant must have graduated from a Maryland high school, and their parents must prove they have paid state taxes for at least three years.

O'Malley touted the benefits for the state before he signed the bill into law at the Statehouse.

"This will allow us to have a more highly educated work force, which is a good thing for all of us," he says.

The measure finally passed after having been rejected for several years. Despite Tuesday's signing, opponents are not going away, as they are putting together a petition drive to get the measure before voters, and stop the law from going into effect in 2011.

Delegate Mike McDermott represents the Eastern Shore. He says response to the petition drive has been strong, and voiced his opposition to the bill for many reasons, including its cost.

"They didn't address the fiscal note and the cost to the people of Maryland. That's going to be a problem in future budget years, and the university system is going to be coming and asking for more money," McDermott says.

Sen. Victor Ramirez of Prince George's County sponsored the bill, and when asked whether he had concerns the petition drive could lead to it being overturned, he responded, "Nope. None."

The Maryland bill was modeled after the failed federal DREAM Act. President Obama, in a speech about immigration Tuesday, promised to "keep fighting for the [federal] DREAM Act."

Among the other bills O'Malley signed Tuesday was one that institutes reliability standards on the state's utilities. It was crafted in response to PEPCO's recent troubles, though many local Montgomery County lawmakers say the bill was weakened from it's original version and will have little effect.

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