- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

Immigration-rights advocates in Annapolis are seeking to push through the legislature at least two measures aimed at making life a good deal easier for illegal aliens living in Maryland. One such bill would change the law to permit illegals to get drivers licenses.
In neighboring Virginia, both houses of the legislature alarmed by the fact that seven of the 19 terrorists who struck this country on September 11 were carrying Virginia ID cards even though they did not live in the state approved legislation requiring that foreign nationals present documents such as a foreign residency card showing that they are legally in the country when applying for a license. Gov. Mark Warner has yet to decide whether he will sign the legislation, which passed both houses of the General Assembly by majorities large enough to override a veto. Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, who has introduced related legislation in the House of Representatives, notes that, absent such a requirement, "a state-issued license becomes a veil of legitimacy for terrorists to gain access to planes."
Virginia's legislature, in short, has voted to reform its absurdly liberal procedures for obtaining a license. Unfortunately, in Maryland, momentum is building to move backwards on this issue. Prominent Prince George's County politicians like County Executive Jack Johnson, State's Attorney Glenn Ivey and Delegate Joseph Vallario, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are working closely with Hispanic groups to pass a bill making it possible for illegal aliens to obtain drivers licenses. In essence, when it comes to issuing licenses, they want to move Maryland in the direction of Virginia policy before September 11. We urge Gov. Robert Ehrlich to oppose this bill and veto it if it reaches his desk.
Meanwhile, more than 30 Democrats in the House of Delegates are supporting a bill introduced by Del. Sheila Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, which would allow individuals residing in the country illegally to pay lower in-state tuition rates at Maryland public universities and colleges. State Sens. Gwendolyn Britt, Prince George's County Democrat, and Sharon Grosfeld, Montgomery County Democrat, have introduced a companion measure.
The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates can be large. At the University of Maryland in College Park, for example, students with in-state status will pay approximately $4,800 per year beginning this spring, while out-of-state students will pay $14,002 a difference of more than $9,200.
Currently, a legal resident who has lived in Maryland for three years is eligible to pay the lower in-state tuition rates. The Hixson bill, which has been endorsed by the University of Maryland system, would extend the benefit to illegal aliens who have lived in the state for at least three years and graduated from a Maryland secondary school. This is wrong. With a finite amount of money to spend on education and everything else, lower in-state rates should be limited to persons who are legally in the country. Every time such a benefit goes to someone here in violation of the law, less money is available for a scholarship for someone from a low-income Baltimore or P.G. County household living in the country legally.
Should the legislature be irresponsible enough to pass the Hixson bill, we would strongly urge the governor to veto it.

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