Editor’s note: Last week, the Maryland State Senate approved the “Maryland DREAM Act,” a bill that will allow all qualifying Maryland high school graduates to pay an in-state college tuition rate regardless of immigration status. The legislation is now moving on to the Maryland House of Delegates. This week, we’re featuring three students who are working with CASA of Maryland to make their higher education dreams a reality.
As a U.S. private foundation, OSI does not attempt to influence legislation (commonly referred to as lobbying) and does not state a position on any legislation. The blog posting that follows describes the experiences of the student and does not necessarily reflect the views of OSI.
The fight for in-state tuition over the last few months has been a draining battle. But looking back on the March 7th “Noche Immigrante” rally and the night of the final vote on the bill in the Senate, the efforts were well worth it. The feeling of having hundreds of motivated people all in one location, fighting for the same cause has to be one of the greatest feelings I have ever experienced. As one person, it is easy to give up and say “what is the point?” but when you have numbers and each individual becomes part of a larger multitude, there is so much power.
During the debate on the Senate floor, one of the senators in opposition to the bill said something along the lines of, “Many of you are emphasizing that many of these kids have been brought to this country when they were very young. Why is it that the bill is going to benefit students who have stayed in Maryland or this country for as little as 3 years?”
Over the past few months, I was able to be among a group of kids who are around the same age as me and who were fighting for in-state tuition. Even though many of them haven’t been in the country as long as I have, they are nonetheless incredible in what they have been able to achieve. They are making the most of their opportunities, learning English, and adapting to American culture in a matter of years, while at the same time supporting their families, excelling in school and becoming leaders in their communities.
For example, I know students who have transferred from ESOL classes a few years ago, to becoming National Honors Society members and AP students in their high schools. I consider their ability to adjust to this country, overcome the adversity of adopt a new culture, support their families, and for many, learn a new language in such a short window, a great accomplishment. Their work ethic is unparalleled and their desire to succeed is great. College acceptance is based on merit, and I believe if someone pays taxes in the state and proves their credentials and work ethic to get into an in-state college, then they should be able to get an in-state tuition rate just like any other state resident, regardless of status.