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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.

jag October 10, 2012 at 03:21 PM
"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" This is the biggest "duh" of all time. It takes some seriously twisted logic to come to a different conclusion. Hence why most Marylanders are voting for this, despite the ongoing chest-beating from various racists on this site (no, I'm not saying all opponents are racists).
JustABill October 10, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Last time I checked an educated illegal immigrant and an uneducated immigrant are both equally breaking the law by simply being ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! Why is it so EFFing hard to comprehend that the conversation really should have stopped at the words illegal immigrant? If this Dream Act is really about helping immigrants get a "leg up" in our society then why do legal immigrants (aka documented immigrants) have to pay full out of state tuition and in many cases out of country tuition even if they live here in Maryland for the required time to establish residency? If we really want to improve the education levels of our society why not put this money to far better use by improving the quality of education for the inner city children that were actually born here in Maryland? Could it be because the Democrats here in Maryland already know they have their votes locked up so there is no need to pander to them like they are to Hispanic voters?
Omar Lazo October 10, 2012 at 04:57 PM
You have to remember that most of these "illegal immigrants" did not come here by choice. Some where 4 years old or less when then they were bought to this country. I know people that are "illegal" and barely even speak their parents language. Why should children have to pay for their parents choices.
jag October 10, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Bill, you lack a basic understanding of math. Even if the report underestimates the number of students who would go to college under this law (which I'm certainly not conceding that you know more than UMD researchers, but for the sake of argument) then the net gain would be exponentially higher. So if each year 435 (you got the number wrong) students yield a net gain of $66,000,000 ($151K each) then 9,000 students a year would yield $1.36 BILLION in gains. I wish you were right, but I'm assuming your claim is as baseless as usual. "After they graduate though, what's the point? It's a federal felony to hire one." Hence the requirement that students be in the process of applying for permanent U.S. residency and for the U.S. Selective Service. Go ahead and bog down these kids for no reason. Then in your next rant we get to hear you whine about how they're all worthless immigrants who take more than they give. Never mind the fact it's people like you that try to hold everyone else down for whatever reason.
Arev October 11, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Your aka "documented immigrants" who have to pay out of state tuition is because they are "OUT OF STATE".... they haven't pay taxes for the state. It is so obvious... and those "undocumented immigrant" live, pay takes, and study at a MD HS for at least 3 years, therefore, they are considered in state... Please correct me if i'm wrong... but, I think that is the way it works. At lest that is the way this new law works.
Chris Martin October 11, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I still cannot get beyond the fact that these are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Calling an illegal immigrant an undocumented immigrant is like calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist.
jag October 11, 2012 at 03:49 AM
And I still cannot get beyond the fact there are people like you who run around comparing some kid who happens to not have a SSN to a drug dealer. KKK compared my Irish immigrant family to vagrants and criminals, too. People like you have always existed, but I'm confident November will show that you're nothing but a sad minority that'll be nothing more than a laughingstock in a generation or two.
Chris Martin October 11, 2012 at 04:58 AM
then why not just disregard all of our laws?
Steven October 11, 2012 at 08:01 AM
"When large numbers of otherwise decent people routinely violate a law, the law itself is probably the problem. To argue that illegal immigration is bad merely because it is illegal avoids the threshold question of whether we should prohibit this kind of immigration in the first place."
Walter Darnall October 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM
RE: It would allow certain illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland community colleges and, later, universities. The qualifications include: .... •Proving that students or their parents pay state taxes .... If it can be proven that the parents of said childeren are here --why haven't the parents been turned over to/reported to ICE for subsequent deportation?
jag October 11, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Because exactly no one other than extremists believe we should spend trillions of dollars (both in deportation expenses and in economic losses) jettisoning people whose only "crime" is a minor civil offense such as overstaying a student visa or crossing a boarder twenty years ago without first having documentation in order. Resources should be focused on actual criminals, immigrant and otherwise. Thankfully, that's something both sides of the aisle see quite clearly, other than the odd political xenophobe here and there.
Richard Rice October 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
What in the world are we setting ourselves up for? Yes education is important for everyone but why do we continue to throw even more of our hard earned money down the drain to support people, many of whom it seems don't want to become citizens and then tell them it is alright to go ahead and vote; a right given us by our Constrittution which is more and more being ignored?
Tim Miller October 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Let's go this route, all legally born U.S. children must take a back seat to "Illegals"! That's what this so called "Dream Act" does! It is taking valuable resources away from our own kids. We have a big enough problem with educating our own kids and more needs to be down for them. Help our own kids pay for "Out of State" fees, not illegals! No "ILLEGAL" so be able to get one cent before our own kids are taken care of!
JustABill October 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Arev ... the Legal or "documented" immigrants I was speaking of do live in the state of Maryland but because they are not yet legal US citizens so they are ineligible for instate tuition rates that are intended to be the benefit of actual citizens of the state of Maryland. As an ILLEGAL or "undocumented" immigrant you are not a legal citizen of the state of Maryland. Since you brought up the part of the dream that says their parents must have paid taxes in the state of Maryland for 3 years, I will ask another question. How does a person who is "undocumented" pay taxes? Now I do not want to see the BS answers of the left like, "they pay sales tax" or "they pay tax when they buy gasoline." I am simply asking how does an "undocumented" immigrant pay income or property tax because those are the only two taxes that matter when it comes to funding education. Well and the alleged new casino taxes but we all know that is not really how it is going to work.
HyattsvilleCouldBeBetter October 11, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I'm not sure which way I'm going to vote on this. I still haven't heard a convincing argument from either side.
JustABill October 11, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Neighbor ... No offense intended here, but what part of the Dream Act will only support people who are already knowingly breaking the law is not convincing enough for you?
jag October 11, 2012 at 07:58 PM
JustABill, your questions (and your claims) show you're not very well versed on this law nor on immigration in general. I'd recommend reading up a bit if you don't even know how illegal immigrants file taxes (a requirement under this law).
JustABill October 11, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Gee jag ... I have combed through this bill more than once which is how I became aware of the fact that it does not provide the same benefits for a legal immigrant as it does for an illegal immigrant. I am also well versed in the process of filing a personal income tax return so perhaps you can enlighten us on how a person who does not have a legitimate Social Security number or a green card is able to file a personal income tax return or how they can own a home and pay property tax.
FiFi Griffin October 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM
JustaBill.... JAg is right, you're wrong. Nothing prevents an illegal immigrant from buying a house...maybe the cant get a govt sub loan for the house but if s/he has the money they can buy a house. That "illegal" has to then pay property tax. That same illegal must also pay income tax. A lot of "illegals" do (just like a pimp or extortionist has to pay income tax on his illegal gains! See Gotti) And those that don't are the same as some of our favorite "legal" Americans. I love open debate, but lets all remember to be respectful and acknowledge when we don't know it all. Helps the learning process
JustABill October 12, 2012 at 03:39 AM
FiFi ... I am sorry but you are either are badly misinformed as jag just plain delusional. To purchase a home you must provide a valid Social Security number or a green card int he case of a legal immigrant, even if you are paying for the home in cash. (And if they can pay for their home in cash then they are doing a lot more illegal activity than just being here illegally plus they can afford to pay full tuition.) As for your assertion that illegal immigrants are paying taxes, you are first of all assuming that they are all working for employers that are not also knowingly breaking the law themselves and paying them cash under the table. But since I am sure there are many who are working in jobs using fake ID's and are having taxes withheld there is nothing stopping them from claiming maximum deductions on their W-2 and having very little withheld. But since I am sure you believe that all of these illegal immigrants are such fine upstanding people that they would not cheat the system like that then assuming they all have their full deductions taken out the only way they can file a tax return is if they are using a FAKE or STOLEN ID so in the end they are, once again, committing more than one crime. So what you are saying is it is OK for illegal immigrants to break the law by being here in the first place but now it is also OK for them to be drug king pins that can afford a house in this market and or commit identity theft to get back those taxes they paid?
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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