When voters in Maryland go to the polls, they’ll have the opportunity to decide by their vote on Proposition 4 as to whether or not children of illegal immigrants should be extended the privilege to pursue college degrees at in-state tuition rates, if they qualify under certain conditions.

The Maryland DREAM Act was passed by the General Assembly during the 2011 session and signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley. Opponents gathered enough signatures to require the measure be voted on by Maryland citizens in the upcoming General Election.

In order to qualify for the benefits of the Dream Act the parents must have filed income tax forms for all of the student’s high school years, college years and any years in between, and a student:

  Must have attended a Maryland high school for at least three years and either graduated from a Maryland high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Maryland;
•   Must provide an affidavit stating the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident within 30 days after the individual becomes eligible to do so, if not already a permanent resident;
  Must show proof of registration with the Selective Service System, if required to do so;
•   Must register at a community college within four years after graduating from high school or within four years after receiving a high school equivalency.

With respect to four-year institutions, the students must register within four years of graduating or receiving 60 credits from a community college in Maryland. They must then provide proof of application to become a permanent resident and proof of appropriate income tax filing.

Some argue the unfairness of the act, positing that it will:

  Overload state colleges and possibly take slots from U.S. citizens and legal immigrants;
  Deprive colleges of the larger tuition amounts expected from out-of-state students;
  Discourage immigrants from pursuing the legal immigration process;
  Reward those who have resided under the radar as illegals.

The Act also extends the time in which honorably discharged military veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates from one year after discharge to four years, considering they’ve shown proof of attendance and completion of a Maryland high school or equivalency. Not many argue against this

It’s not likely DREAM students would take slots from legal residents in that they would enter colleges at the junior level, and while colleges may not get as many out-of-state tuition students, the increased number of in-state students, it has been argued, should more than make up the difference.

We believe the prerequisites of the Dream Act more than adequately protect the citizens from the potential abuses many have raised in opposition. The children who will benefit from the act should not be denied access to the valuable higher education opportunities existing in this state. The State of Maryland will not only benefit from the inclusion of these students, but the state will also avoid adding to the numbers of children in Maryland whose futures are severely limited by their lack of adequate education. We feel the Dream Act children should have the same opportunities as our own.

The AFRO endorses the Maryland DREAM Act and highly recommends a “Yes” vote for Proposition 4.