Dream Act a poor investment for Md.

On Nov. 6, Maryland voters will actually have the final say regarding the controversial issue of providing in-state college tuition for young adults who have no moral or legal right to be in Maryland. These are uninvited non-citizens who take our jobs, use our public schools, hospitals, health care, and social services with impunity from the law.

Under Gov. Martin O'Malley's tutelage, Maryland voters have had to tolerate the misguided actions of state and county elected officials who have effectively turned Maryland into a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, costing taxpayers more than $1.9 billion per year. The referendum is an opportunity to send a strong message to Annapolis and the nation that law-abiding citizens oppose amnesty, day labor centers and other costly taxpayer-funded handouts for illegal immigrants.

The Sun editors highlight a "broad coalition of community, religious, labor and civil rights groups" supporting the so-called Maryland Dream Act ("Diverse supporters rally behind Md. Dream Act," July 19). These groups, and the pandering politicians who support them, do a wonderful job of milking the taxpayers' resources to push their selfish, often anti-Maryland agendas. But when it comes to justifiable reasons and common sense answers on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, they come up short. Instead we are subjected to highly emotional, misleading and often racist arguments by the coalition to justify their position.

Here are the facts:

In-state tuition is not free. Taxpayers must cover the difference between out-of-state tuition and the much lower in-state tuition rates as illegal immigrants displace out-of-state students attending Maryland universities. At the University of Maryland College Park it would cost $17,000 per illegal immigrant student per year. Tuition costs will go up for all students.

Deserving Maryland students are displaced. Maryland universities average about 23 percent of their student population as out-of-state, but they are authorized to levels up to 30 percent. As the in-state illegal immigrant student population explodes, universities will be forced to displace thousands of in-state citizen students rather than lucrative out-of-state students.

The law requires applicants to file taxes, not pay taxes. Illegal immigrants only need to file tax returns, not pay taxes to qualify for in-state tuition, and most already file for the child and poverty tax credits. Foreign tourists visiting Maryland pay more in taxes than non-citizens, and tourists don't use our public schools, colleges, jails or social services.

Subsidizing college education for non-citizens is a bad investment. Federal law prohibits hiring any illegal immigrants. They also can't legally vote or obtain a Maryland drivers license. However, illegal immigrants in Maryland can simply pay the out-of-state tuition rates if they desire a higher education, just like international students had they stayed in their home country.

There are over 300,000 illegal immigrants in Maryland, and their numbers are growing. Thousands could qualify for in-state tuition now and in the future. Costs to subsidize their college education could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Struggling Maryland taxpayers already pay too much!

Brad Botwin, Rockville

The writer is director of Help Save Maryland.

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