Virginia legislature considers immigration for higher education

A panel presented TED-talk style speeches on of free speech in the media followed by a discussion. FILE PHOTO / THE FLAT HAT

IIllegal immigration has been a massive talking point in American politics over the past two decades, and the debate continued in November as Maryland passed its  DREAM Act ballot initiative.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the DREAM Act allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities in Maryland. In order to pay this rate, each student must have completed high school and then earned 60 credits at any community college in Maryland. The student must also provide proof of residency in Maryland and proof of payment of income taxes and must meet the selective service requirement.

Following the initiative in Maryland, Virginia currently has four similar bills in the House and two more in the state Senate.

Alicia Bobulinski of the Making a Difference Foundation, a Virginia-based organization that deals with education and minority outreach, feels that Maryland’s DREAM Act is going to prove extremely beneficial, and she hopes for a similar bill to pass on the national level or at least in Virginia.

“The sooner we pass it, the better for everybody in the country,” said Bobulinski. “If the population continues to be uneducated, our country will no longer be number one. If people want to help expand our economy why not allow it? We need to keep bringing bright people to America and then keep them here.”

Pablo Ordonez ’16, a resident of District Heights, Maryland, expressed similar sentiments.

“I think that it’s a pretty good idea,” said Ordonez. “It shows that immigrants have long-term goals, and it will help improve Maryland’s workforce.”

Ordonez believes that the initiative is written in a way that benefits both his home state and the immigrant students.

“The income tax requirement will help the state, and the requirement for the students to earn 60 credits at community college shows preparedness on their part,” said Ordonez.

Jackson Darr ’16 feels uneasy about the United States’ illegal immigration problem, but he supports the DREAM Act in Maryland and would like to see it expand beyond that state.

“I don’t like that our country has an immigration problem,” said Darr. “But the fact that the students have to show income tax records will allow the government to collect data that will help solve the immigration problem in the future. I see it as a give-and-take idea, and I feel that it is a fair tradeoff that illegal immigrants should be able to receive an education in exchange for the data that the government will be able to put to use.”


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