"A nation without borders is not a nation. "
— Ronald Reagan
Legal immigration plays a key role in building our nation and deserves our full support. But today we are facing rampant illegal border crossings that have a high cost to our state and nation.
According to a report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in Maryland alone we are paying $1.4 billion per year for costs associated with illegal aliens, such as K-12 education, health care costs and incarceration. (The total cost for these unreimbursed services is actually $1.6 billion but is reduced because the report accounts for the approximately $200 million that illegal aliens in Maryland pay in taxes through sales taxes and income taxes.)
We need laws to maintain an organized society, and when those laws are just, we need to follow those laws if we are to be successful. When it comes to illegal aliens, our state and our country must enforce the immigration laws and not reward illegal activity.
When considering our existing immigration laws, it is absurd to even think about hard-working Marylanders subsidizing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens, which the Maryland legislature voted this year to do.
Although the bill passed, I can assure you that there was bipartisan opposition to this bill in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. The liberal leaders in the Democratic majority applied pressure to get the bill through, but even so, it barely passed. The vote in the House was 74-65, with more than 20 Democrats voting against the legislation.
Not only does this bill further encourage illegal aliens to migrate to Maryland, but we simply cannot afford it. The fiscal note attached to the bill indicated that the costs to the state will reach an additional $4 million annually.
Maryland is planning to raid a variety of special funds just to get through the 2012 fiscal year. This would be like putting your groceries on your credit card each month without a means to pay it back. You couldn't live like that for long, and neither can the state of Maryland.
It doesn't make financial sense to commit ourselves to higher expenses in the future when we can't afford our current expenses.
Maryland should be looking for ways to cut spending, not planning to increase spending on a program designed to give our tax dollars to illegal aliens through subsidized education. In-state tuition is not just a nice benefit; it uses Maryland tax dollars to cover more than half the cost of college tuition.
For instance, at Hagerstown Community College, the in-state cost for one year is $2,400, but the actual (out-of-state) cost for the education is $4,944. For the University of Maryland, the in-state cost for one year is $8,416, while others pay $24,831 — a $16,415 subsidy that Maryland taxpayers would pay for an illegal alien who will not be able to legally work in the United States upon graduation.
We are not talking about not allowing illegal aliens to attend Maryland colleges. We are talking about simply not subsidizing their education — something we do not do for foreigners who are here legally or even U.S. citizens from other states.
This bill is bad for Maryland and bad for our country. It circumvents the law and it comes with a price tag we cannot afford. For these reasons and many others, I am teaming up with legislators and citizens just like you to overturn this bad piece of legislation.
The Maryland Constitution provides that if a number of registered voters equivalent to at lest 3 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last election sign a petition, that the law will not take effect until it is voted on in the next election cycle. The voters of Maryland should have the chance to decide on this legislation. Go to http://www.mdpetitions.com to sign the petition and see how you can help.
Neil Parrott is a Republican representing Washington County in the Maryland House of Delegates. His website is http://www.neilparrottfordelegate.com.