News / USA

Illegal Immigrants Offered Lower Tuition for Higher Education

Chris Simkins
This November, voters in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland will decide whether to uphold a state law giving some undocumented immigrants tuition breaks at state-run universities and community colleges.

Maryland could become the 12th state in the nation to offer undocumented immigrants lower tuition for higher education.

There are at least 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In June, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order allowing many who are under 30 to remain and work in the United States temporarily.

American dream on hold

Ivette Roman is one of those people impacted by the presidential decree. Born in Peru, she's one of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. She grew up in Maryland and, as a high school graduate with honors, was looking forward to attending a university in the state.

"I was super excited," Roman says. "I was like 'Yes! I am finally going to college and pursue my dream.'" 

But that dream is on hold for now.  Roman's status as an undocumented immigrant means she's not eligible for same lower tuition rates at state-run colleges and universities as other Maryland residents.  

"I was just devastated," she says. "I was saying 'What am I going to do?' I tried looking for other ways to pay for it and I was not going to give up easily. It is everything that I have ever wanted, is to go to college."

In-state tuition

Now, immigrant rights groups are urging Maryland voters to say yes to a plan offering in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. It's a referendum on a law passed by the state legislature last year. 

Maryland's "Dream Act" is tougher than similar laws in 11 other states, says state legislator Anne Kaiser. "We have made our law even tougher to say to people, 'This is just going to the most deserving kids, who have worked hard and played by the rules, and just want an opportunity for an in-state education.'"

If voters approve, undocumented immigrants will receive in-state tuition if they attend a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year state college or university. Parents would have to pay state income taxes for five years and plan to become permanent residents. 

Unjust rewards?

But the initiative faces opposition.

"It rewards law-breaking. It invites future law-breaking and it is fundamentally unfair to those who have played by the rules," says Kristen Williamson, with the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The group says some 3,000 illegal immigrants would immediately become eligible for in-state tuition if the law is approved.

"Having an incentive like in-state tuition will only invite more illegal immigration into the state," Williamson says. "And that means that Marylanders aren't necessarily going to get a return on their investment because these illegal aliens are not eligible to work in the country permanently."

For now, Ivette Roman can obtain a renewable two-year work permit to stay in the country without fear of deportation. She and other young immigrants hope Maryland's Dream Act will provide a path to a college education, rewarding career and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dave Francis
October 20, 2012 3:36 PM
President Obama has promised without contradiction that if he wins the White House back, he will pass a blanket AMNESTY, a mass amnesty, a definite and negative Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will crucify the American job seekers to the majority of the 20 million or more illegal aliens. This will be unimaginable to the millions of working mums, dads who will pay for the illiterate, the people who come here illegally that taxpayers are financially supporting. Every day our hospitals are filling up with the sick people from around the world, for the price of a airline ticket or using guides to bring them through our borders. They are smuggled themselves into this land and taking advantage of our lenient laws. The U.S. courts demand we must care for every need, without ever paying one single penny into the pool.

Unless the TEA PARTY in the very near future exerts influence on state and federal policies, America will continue to sink like the ill fated HMS Titanic in a financial disaster. Some state voters have got smarter in outing Senators and Congress man across the board, replacing them with moderate Conservatives of the TEA PARTY leadership. Our country has being crippled by additional spending by the Democrats, but what should concern us is influence of the courts, namely the U.S. federal courts. For decades now state taxpayers have been forced to pay the way for illegal alien children, because there is a badly interpreted law, which makes every child of a foreign person the right to citizenship, if they can smuggle mostly unborn babies into our country. Originally it was that slaves after the Civil War could be granted citizenship. Not that any pregnant female could enter the jurisdiction of the United States and claim citizenship for their child? The highest court has never visited this law previously and either of political parties seemingly has ever entertained to vote on an amendment, so that only the children of one valid U.S. citizen have a right to claim citizenship. This is the origin of the DREAM ACT OBAMA EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE LAW, which has been simmering in silence for many decades. The cause and effect of children/ unborn fetuses smuggled across the border or on an international flight.

by: Dave Francis
October 20, 2012 3:36 PM

Our government does nothing about the birthright tourists, who come here and having delivered their baby here leave the country. Under the present law the child is entitled to a U.S. passport for future use. At a later date the parent or parents return with the child in tow, who is now eligible for a free education, free health and other services? At an even later date the U.S citizen can sponsor the immediate family members and this is yet another immigration issue called CHAIN Migration. This simple method of legal entry draws approximately 8.000 more people to the United States. However other than the birthright tourists as it so called, around 400 thousand pregnant women manage to wangle their way through borders or a port of entry, carrying a human seed in their body undetectable and become a massive financial cost on states and the federal government. The children grow up in America and the parents avail themselves of a child’s welfare payments, which accumulates into billions of dollars a year. This of course is the Origin of Dream Act children, which the illegal parents are entirely to blame and should be held accountable.

Across the country the majority of states are subject to this law, costing taxpayers’ unknown numbers of dollars annually, within the estimate of 113 billion and constantly rising. The example is the county of Los Angeles as in Year-end closing 2011 figures from the Department of Public Social Services reported that over $646 million in welfare and food stamp benefits were issued to illegal alien parents for their native-born children, announced Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The $646.2 million consisted of $258 million in CalWORKs (welfare) and $388 million in Food Stamps) — a $21 million increase over the previous year. “With the $550 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for healthcare, the total cost for illegal aliens to this one County taxpayer exceeds $1.6 billion dollars a year,” said Antonovich. “These costs do not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for education.” Even with these billions of dollars staring in the face of an America drained by the poverty stricken from other countries, the city council has given the go-ahead for driver’s licenses for people who criminally entered America and now collecting free health care, free education for their children and Section 8 cheap housing.

by: MIke from: Maryland
October 10, 2012 11:21 PM
I think this is unfair they should have out of state tuition if thats not the case then I want in state tuition in other states. I read in one blog that said they didn't have a choice to be here in the states it was their parents choice, well I didn't have a choice to be born in a state that I didn't want to go to college to either, but am I complaining they better pay that out of state tuition and be happy, that they can even apply and go. They can take a loan out like everyone else.

by: Joseph from: Galvagna
October 03, 2012 11:23 AM
This is a disgrace but not surprising for Montgomery CO and MD. I have been a life long time resident MC and am fully discussed at the idea of giving illegals benefits over true residences. Our country is going the way of the minorities and illegals. Am I missing something here their parents are illegal that makes the children illegal period!!!! What happened to taking of our own first. Montgomery Co is the worst, spending money we don not have for trips to other countries in the name of sister counties. Please all sane MD voters vote this down. Vote better immigration laws, illegal is illegal. Dems want convicts, illegals, all welfare people vote talk about stacking the deck. All these people are looking for is a free ride. No voting no instate tuition start real deportation reform IRS laws take back our country fire Obama WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY. We have tried his way now lets go back to the right way of people earning their way no more gifts with money we do not have. Wake up US citizens vote Republican be strong vote out the trash take back what we have lost in the last 4 years. I am not saying Romney is the all answer but he cannot be as bad as Obama. Romney is Christian, business man, married to same WOMEN, all of the above none of witch Obama is. I am a retired US Marine and glad of it I would never recognize Obama as my Commander in chief. He is a commander in lies, deceit, deception, disorder all of the above that goes for his wife as well.
Note Both of these fakes have had to surrender their law degrees for some unknown reason not reviled like all the unknowns not reviled about the Obama family. They are sucking the country dry stop the blood letting.
Sign A real citizen and Veteran

by: John Gubbings from: Bethesda
October 03, 2012 10:49 AM
Before you make up your mind about the DREAM Act, know that faith communities across MD have come together to support it.
Please inform yourself about it beyond casual or biased information being passed around. One resource:

by: John Gubbings from: Bethesda
October 03, 2012 9:52 AM
The law allows qualifying children no special "breaks" (their classmates will have the same tuition with no conditions) and their are conditions for the undocumented that will make it hard for some to qualify. The children have done nothing illegal. Without the law they have to pay out-of-state tuition (3x normal). The conditions are that their parents prove they have paid state and federal taxes and have attended community college for two years, and have the grades to get into MD Univ. The law also allows military who are living in MD but are citizens of other states to pay in-state tuition..

by: Ali from: VA
October 02, 2012 4:02 PM
The only reason this is coming up for a referendum is because more than 100,000 Marylanders across party lines signed a petition to stop the implementation of the bill that was pushed through the legislature.

As for these "kids" being law-abiding, no such thing. They're seeking an edge over legal foreign students and Americans from other states. Federal law requires that states that give educational benefits such as in-state tuition to illegal aliens must also give those same benefits to citizens of other states REGARDLESS OF RESIDENCY.

by: Worry from: U.S.
October 02, 2012 1:54 AM
It is nice to know that someone with no right to be here gets to enjoy instate tuition, while legal residents and citizens who do not reside in Maryland do not. This is not showing charity to the poor, but a contempt for those foolish enough to play by the rules.

by: Delaware Bob from: Smyrna, Delaware
October 01, 2012 9:58 PM
I hope the Maryland taxpayers have enough sense to vote this down. Giving these illegal aliens more education only makes it harder for American students to find a job. I hope if Romney gets elected, he will get our immigration laws enforced and get rid of these illegal aliens who have NO RIGHT to be in this country. obama is nothing but a DISGRACE for this deferred action for the illegal aliens

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs