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Maryland's Dream Act would provide tuition benefit to immigrants

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Immigrants in Maryland know that the path to a brighter future passes through the halls of our state's educational institutions. This fall, Maryland residents will vote on a ballot referendum that would provide immigrants with easier access to higher education and the employment prospects that a college degree confers.

Question 4 on this fall's ballot will ask voters whether they wish to approve our state's Dream Act. If passed, the measure would grant in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants, under a few conditions. To be eligible, immigrants must go to Maryland high schools for at least their sophomore, junior and senior years. In addition, they or a guardian must file a Maryland income tax return for each of those three years.

Immigrants who meet those requirements would also have to sign a legal document committing them to seek U.S. citizenship when they become eligible to do so. If they meet all of these criteria, immigrants would begin their in-state college education at a two-year community college.

Some had predicted that the referendum would create a stir among voters, but it appears that the measure has generated relatively little controversy. In fact, a number of polls show Maryland voters strongly in favor of the Dream Act, with typical levels of support around 60 percent.

This story is another prime example of a theme we touch on frequently: the changeable nature of immigration laws. If enacted into law, Maryland's Dream Act would provide greater educational opportunity for young illegal immigrants. This substantial benefit shows that immigrants should monitor modifications to the law closely so that they can respond to beneficial and detrimental changes alike.

Source: The Washington Times, "'Dream Act' sleepier debate in Maryland than expected," David Hill, Oct. 7, 2012

• As stated above, the Dream Act would require qualified applicants to seek citizenship. You can learn more about that process by visiting our Washington, D.C. naturalization and citizenship page.

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