- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 29, 2003

ANNAPOLIS Legislation allowing illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition at public universities has passed both chambers in Maryland. Meanwhile, the House of Delegates has reworked a bill that would allow them to get driver's licenses without proof of residency.
The tuition bill, sponsored by Delegate Sheila E. Hixson, Montgomery County Democrat, passed the House 82-51 earlier this month. A companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Gwendolyn Britt, Prince George's County Democrat, passed 33-14.
The Senate bill requires aliens to sign an affidavit that says they will apply for permanent residency within 30 days once they become eligible to do so. An amended version of the bill would prohibit a student from getting a degree if he or she doesn't sign an affidavit.
Illegal aliens are eligible to apply for permanent residency if they attended a Maryland public or private school for at least three years and graduated from a public or private secondary school in the state.
The driver's license bill, sponsored by Delegate Joseph F. Vallario Jr., Prince George's County Democrat, passed the House 81-55. An amended version of the bill requires the state to form a task force that would study the issue. A report by the task force is due in December 2004.
The bill would allow those without a Social Security number to show a birth certificate when they apply for a license. The bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
"This bill in no way changes the status of the law," Mr. Vallario said. "You still have to prove who you are."
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, has said he will veto the driver's license bill, but Mr. Vallario said he hoped the governor would sign the amended version. Mr. Ehrlich has yet to take a stand on the in-state tuition bill, but sources said yesterday he would consider vetoing it.
Mrs. Hixson yesterday called children of illegal aliens a "lost souls group" who needed help. "Right now they have to pay triple the cost of what other Maryland residents pay to go to college," she said.
Tuition at the University of Maryland in College Park is $4,800 for in-state students and $14,002 for out-of-state students.
Families of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks have been protesting both bills.
Peter Gadiel, who lost his son in the World Trade Center attack, said yesterday he was disappointed by the passage of the bills and with the changes to the driver's license bill.
"It is a phony. … All they have done is cloud the issue," said Mr. Gadiel, who also is a board member of the Survivors of 9/11 Coalition. "Instead of openly saying they want to license illegals, it just exempts those who don't have Social Security numbers from providing them."
Opponents said the bill will only encourage more illegal aliens to seek out Maryland because of the benefits the state offers. They also argue that the in-state tuition bill uses taxpayer money to subsidize education for undocumented residents.
Delegate Herbert McMillan, Anne Arundel County Republican, said the bills reward those who don't play by the rules. "This [in-state tuition] bill also goes against federal law which says non-U.S. citizens may not be given education benefits that are not available to U.S. citizens," he said.

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