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Study: ‘Dream Act’ Would Be Net Gain for Maryland

What financial effect would the Dream Act have?

The first in-depth fiscal analysis of the Maryland “Dream Act” claims that the law would yield a $66 million long-term gain for each yearly group of undocumented students allowed to pay in-state tuition at state community colleges and universities.

The Dream Act was signed into law in the spring of 2011 but was promptly stymied by a Republican-led referendum petition. It is one of four controversial statewide ballot questions voters will settle on Nov. 6.

It would allow certain illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland community colleges and, later, universities. The qualifications include:

  • Graduating from a state high school after attending at least three years
  • Proving that students or their parents pay state taxes
  • Applying for permanent U.S. residency and for the U.S. Selective Service

Qualifying students would start at a two-year community college. When they apply to a four-year school, they would be evaluated as part of the out-of-state applicant pool.

Similar laws are in effect in a dozen other states, but Maryland’s version—if it survives Election Day—would be the first to be approved by voters.

Dream Act opponents were able to build support in part by questioning the law’s murky details, The Washington Post reported. But the new study, released Monday, suggests that the Dream Act will be a $66 million net gain for each class of students.

Conducted by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the study weighs the initial costs of the students' lowered tuition payments against the benefits of improving the student’s long-term earning potential and decreasing their dependence on government support.

Some of the report’s key findings:

  • 435 students per year will enroll in community college under the Dream Act
  • Those students will together cost their county’s government $3.6 million, another $3.6 million for the state, and $200,000 for the federal government
  • Presuming that each student will continue living in Maryland, the net gain from each year’s crop of Dream Act students will come to $66 million.

"The initial costs of the investment in education will be more than offset by increased tax revenues and lower government spending on incarceration and other government programs that result from a more educated citizenry," its authors wrote.

The report comes on the heels of DREAMers’ last and biggest public demonstration, a rally on Saturday in which hundreds of students and activists marched from Langley Park to the University of Maryland-College Park.

Watch NBC4’s video of the rally here and read The Washington Post’s coverage here.

Meanwhile, the Republican-led campaign against the Dream Act—which so easily collected more than twice the number of signatures needed to block the Dream Act from taking effect last year—appears to be languishing.

The grassroots effort mustered a few events this summer but the movement has shown little sign of having maintained its “fever pitch” from last year, reports The Baltimore Sun

"Since it made it to the referendum stage, there is no umbrella committee that's organized and funded to promote it," Sen. Edward R. Reilly told The Sun. "It's still a hot-button issue when I talk to people one-on-one, but there's nobody pushing for it."

Germantown resident Brad Botwin, director of the anti-illegal immigrant group Help Save Maryland, told The Sun that HSM will be airing radio ads in the coming weeks.

Marcus Aurelius October 15, 2012 at 04:12 PM
we have alll kinds of laws out their for everyone except the caucasians, why???? no other country on the globe writes special laws for any other group of people, first these people have broken into our country and should be charged as such, the parents brought the children into the mess not send them all home and take every dime the yhave to pay for the services they used why they were here illegally, end all affirmnative action laws the discriminate against white people, end all peel grants another give away program that discriminates against white kids going to college, what are the hispanics and africans going to do in 30 years when white peope are the minority in this country and all the programs will go to whitey???? bet they change the laws then.
RVN6768 October 15, 2012 at 06:42 PM
This is another "feel good" political ploy by the left to garner more voting members. Pay me now or pay me later seems to be the mantra of progressives who never seem to mind spending other people's money to save society from itself.....
jag October 15, 2012 at 06:53 PM
With ITINs, JustABill. That's remarkable that you don't know that yet are calling everyone else delusional and misinformed. Why don't you try achieving even a remedial level of knowledge on a subject before expressing an opinion next time. It's beyond depressing to think that people like you might very well determine the outcome of one of more of these referendum questions.
jag October 15, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Right, a "feel good political ploy" to educate the population and have these children be an economic gain instead of a drag on the state. I very much agree it's business as usual for Maryland - the wealthiest state in the union with the best education system in the country. Take issue with it if you want, but you're in the minority for a reason.
Omar Lazo October 21, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Undocumented people can purchase property or at least were allowed to before we started regulating the industry again. As an undocumented individual you can obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) which is a social security number for the purposed of tax reporting with non of the benefits of social security. So there are thousands of people paying into the social security system and will never see anything back. That being said, there are thousands of undocumented immigrants that are home owners. The problem right now with that is that when they go to modify or refinance their homes, they are told that since they don't have the proper documentation that they can not. When they were giving out the ARM loans out they had no problems giving these high interest loans. I worked in Real Estate for over 7 years, so I saw case after case of people paying 3% interest for 5 years when all of the sudden paying 10-12% once their ARMs matured. Whatever your view on the subject, you have to agree that the system doesn't work. Asking people to go back to their ccountry of origin to apply also isn't an option. You can't expect people to leave their children, mortgages, and car loans behind while they wait for our "super effecient" goverment to process their paperwork.

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