Last Friday the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The bill had already cleared the state senate and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has said he will sign the bill.
Today's Baltimore Sun devoted sympathetic front-page coverage to illegal immigrants who now "celebrate the approval of in-state tuition for Maryland students regardless of immigration status."
"I want to be a part," blared the front-page headline to Nick Madigan's A-1 story. Below the headline is a picture of "Missael, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who lives in East Baltimore."
"[H]is interest in getting an education was fired by a visit to the Johns Hopkins campus," the caption notes.
“I said to myself, ‘I want to be a part of this one day. I want to go through this experience.'"
Madigan devoted the first five paragraphs to Missael, omitting his last name, before talking about illegal immigrant Sarita in paragraphs six through nine.
Former Governor Robert Ehrlich (R), who vetoed a similar bill in 2003, was then brought in as a convenient villain in the 10th paragraph:
CASA's executive director, Gustavo Torres, said in a statement issued by his office that passage of the tuition law represented a victory "many years in the making," a reference to the bill's tortuous path through the legislature. First introduced in 2002, the law was approved in 2003 and then vetoed by Republican Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., who was the governor at the time. In 2007, a similar bill passed the Maryland House, only to stall in the Senate.
Granted, the bill that hits O'Malley desk is "more limited than previous versions," Madigan noted, adding, "Students must attend three years of high school, their parents must pay state income taxes, and they must start at a community college. After two years, they can apply to one of the state's four-year universities."
All the same, there is still strong opposition to the bill, and not just from Republicans, who account for only 43 members of the House of Delegates and 12 members of the Senate. A total of 66 delegates and 20 senators voted against the tuition bill, meaning a fair number of Democrats voted in the negative.
Even so, Madigan waited until the 14th paragraph to quote a Republican opponent of the bill:
After the law's passage on Monday night, opponents remained committed to its undoing. "I don't think Americans should have to compete with an illegal immigrants for a job," Del. Herbert H. McMillan, an Anne Arundel Republican, said Wednesday. "And I don't think we should be offering enticements for people to come here illegally. If you build it, they will come."
McMillan said it was bad enough that Maryland had offered driver's licenses to illegal immigrants for several years, a practice that ended in 2009. Two years earlier, he said, "about 260,000 illegal immigrants applied for those licenses," almost overwhelming the Motor Vehicle Administration's ability to cope. Now, he said, an "underfunded" educational system could find itself in similar straits as a result of the tuition law.