More than a dozen states have Dream Acts, and Maryland's eligibility criteria are the strictest. It requires students to attend a Maryland high school for at least three years and graduate. It requires that their parents pay taxes in Maryland for at least three years and that the students attend community college for two years before transferring to a four-year institution.
Two elements of the law frequently give voters pause. The first is the question of whether illegal immigrants really pay taxes. They do. The
The second qualm many voters have is whether this law would somehow allow illegal immigrants to take away seats at Maryland colleges that otherwise would have gone to citizens. That won't happen. The community college requirement means Dream Act students won't be competing with others for seats in the freshman class at a four-year college or university. They won't force anybody out in community college either, because of the open-enrollment policies of those institutions. And the law specifies that those who transfer two years later must be counted as out-of-state students for admissions purposes, which means they are not competing with other Marylanders. Even if they were, the number of Dream Act students who make it that far is expected to be so small — perhaps as few as 10 per year for each of the state's 12 public colleges and universities — that the schools would be able to absorb the extra enrollment without keeping anyone else out.
The rewards of the Dream Act, though, are substantial. Providing Dream Act students with the chance for a better education means they will contribute more to the economy (and tax base) and cost less in social services and other government spending. A recent