Carroll County commissioners are among the most vocal supporters of a campaign to overturn a law signed by the governor last week that allows in-state tuition rates for immigrants living in Maryland illegally. Opponents of the law call their campaign the "Petition to Stop a Nightmare."
“There are a couple reasons the Board of County Commissioners felt compelled to weigh in on this topic,” said Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County commissioner, District 2.
“One is, it's fundamentally wrong, in that it has the potential to deny placement to kids who come from families who play by the rules. The other is that the county, through the community college it funds, would be left with footing the bill for this wrong-headed mandate.”
The bill allows illegal immigrants applying to schools in Maryland to receive in-state tuition if they have earned a diploma or an equivalent degree from a high school in the state.
"Liberals don’t care that in-state tuition fees cover only a fraction of the cost of a college education," said Richard Rothschild, Carroll County commissioner District 4. "Now, they want to break the backs of working families by paying tuition subsidies to illegal aliens that will compete against our children for classroom seats."
A similar bill for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants was passed eight years ago by the Maryland General Assembly but was vetoed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. following the 2003 legislative session.
At Carroll Community College, the difference is a more than $63 per credit hour increase for out of state students versus in-county students.
For the state’s largest college, the University of Maryland, the difference is more than $16,000 for full-time students. Tuition is $8,416 for Maryland residents but rises to $24,831 for non-residents.
Sen. Joe Getty, District 5, is working to increase knowledge of the “Petition to Stop a Nightmare,” an attempt at getting the General Assembly to hold a referendum under a petition process that requires gathering over 55,000 signatures from registered voters throughout the state.
If the petition process is successful, the bill does not take effect unless it is approved by voters in the 2012 election.
“As a delegate, I was surprised at how frequently I heard from parents of students about the difficulty in achieving admission to a state college or university,” said Getty in a statement.
“In this economic recession, many families are struggling financially while still trying to provide a college education for their children. They might desire go to a private school, in-state or out of state, but with the state of the current economy, the University of Maryland system is their best prospect financially.
“Providing scarce admission slots to illegal immigrants is just not fair to the families of long-time law-abiding and tax-paying citizens of this state,” said Getty.
One-third of the signatures, or 35,000, must be collected by May 31. The remainder must be turned in to the State Board of Elections by the end of June.