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McDonough Talks Dream Act at CCBC Forum

The outspoken state delegate spoke to CCBC students and community members about the bill, which was sent to referendum for the November ballot.

If a controversial ballot question passes next month, state Del. Pat McDonough said Tuesday, the first thing he will do on Nov. 7 would be to start readying a case for federal court.

"It won't be over on Nov. 6, probably no matter what happens, no matter who loses," McDonough said.

McDonough, a Middle River Republican who represents portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, made the remarks during a forum on the Maryland Dream Act at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex, in front of a crowd of about two dozen, mostly CCBC students.

The Dream Act, patterned after similar legislation in 11 other states, would guarantee in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, provided, among other things, that they spent at least three years in a Maryland high school, that their parents had filed income taxes and that the students first spend two years at a community college. 

The bill, passed in 2011, was quickly petitioned to referendum, and will be Question 4 on the Maryland ballot in two weeks.

In the 90-minute appearance at CCBC, McDonough spoke about citizenship, the rule of law, federal law and what he called "misinformation" about the Maryland Dream Act's true costs. The in-state tuition discount is about $4,000 per year for community colleges, and $16,000 per year at the University of Maryland College Park, McDonough said, making the total tax dollars spent for one student $40,000.

Estimating that 1,000 students annually may take advantage of the measure, "$40 million dollars a year [in costs] going into an under-funded system that is in debt," he said.

On the flip side, McDonough said he supports immigration reform, including incentives for young illegal immigrants to join the armed forces as a path to some kind of legal status (though he clarified after the speech that he does not specifically support the federal DREAM Act, introduced in Congress several times in recent years).

Such reform, however, must come from the federal level, he said, adding that federal authorities cannot "selectively enforce" immigration law.

"Do you think if Gov. O'Malley or President Obama, President Bush were to begin to selectively enforce the Civil Rights Act, how long would that last? Minutes," he said.

He said the tuition bill runs afoul of federal law barring preferential treatment or benefits given to illegal immigrant students that are not given to out-of-state students, which could put state and community colleges "in danger of losing our ability to charge out-of-state" tuition.

Recent polls have shown support for the measure among 50 to 60 percent of Maryland voters. Most recently, a Washington Post poll found 59 percent of likely voters in support and 35 percent opposing the measure.

"You don't collect  in a record time and think that people are not against this. It's inconsistent," McDonough said afterwards. "I'm confident that we're going to win it."

After his speech, he fielded several questions from the audience on the bill's fiscal impact and general issues regarding illegal immigrants, such as the impact and costs of increased local and federal enforcement and a recent identity theft case in Houston, TX.

The forum, he said afterwards, was a great opportunity to have an important conversation just two weeks from the election.

"People have an open mind, they were intelligent, they were reasonable, they listened to both sides and they'll make a decision," he said.

McDonough probably didn't change many minds at CCBC. He asked the audience to raise their hands to gauge the crowd's position. About two-thirds were for the bill and one-third were against, with one identifying herself as undecided.

Bill Krehnbrink, a Perry Hall resident who said he was against the tuition bill, said he found the forum "very interesting," particularly quotes read by McDonough from the likes of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington in reference to what he called the "public office" of citizenship.

"I've heard some of the quotes mentioned, but I've never heard it in that kind of mode with that kind of passion behind it," he said.

Pragyashree Sharma, a CCBC sophomore from Towson who is herself a legal immigrant from Nepal, was put off by perceived stereotyping of immigrants by McDonough and other opponents, particularly in relation to ethnicity and crime, and said that the law should not punish students brought to the country when they were young.

"For the youngsters, I would say why not let them go? They came here. That could be your parents [who] came here," she said. "That's not your fault that you came here as an illegal immigrant into the United States. That's your parents' fault."

CASA de Maryland, a Latino immigrant legal aid and advocacy group, held similar forums at CCBC in Essex and Catonsville earlier this month to speak in support of the measure.  Educating Maryland Kids, the ballot issue committee for the measure, held a rally in Silver Spring on Tuesday.

Ron Pagano November 06, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Jerry, not everything is black & white, as you'd like it to be. If so, half our banking execs would be in jail for the financial debacle! Evaluating our decisions & balancing them fairly is much more difficult & takes more intelligence than just cliche-ing away the problem (i.e. "They're illegal, send them back!") Here are the real issues: 1. US employers NEED these workers! Do YOU want to travel around the country, picking fruit & being looked down upon because of your race? If US companies refused to hire undocumented workers, this would never have been a problem. 2. A child bought here & raised as a patriotic American & who has excelled in school, should never be denied or discouraged from an education; would you rather have uneducated poor, relying on social programs, or educated tax-payers (yes, they pay income & other taxes)? Last, unless the government is willing to deport every illegal alien, including the many Canadians & Europeans, whether they've been here for 1 yr or 50 yrs, then this mentality needs to stop! BTW, non-citizens can join the US military & receive a "fast-track" for citizenship, because they are considered to be contributing something important; why shouldn't innocent children, who have worked hard, obtained a college degree & who are contributing to the country, be allowed a "fast-track" to citizenship? McDonough needs to stop his band-standing & start working FOR the people of Maryland, who, btw, will be voting today to support our Dream Act.
April November 06, 2012 at 02:42 PM
@FIFA: So just because there are people out there abusing the system, it makes it ok for everyone to do it? One of the biggest problems no one is talking about in this country is the sense of self entitlement that the govenment or corporations owe you something. So many people now want to throw in the towel and say, "That person is getting a free ride, so I deserve one too." The realtiy: there is NO FREE RIDE. Someone is paying for everything, either through taxes or by piling debt onto the backs of future generations in this country. The government is not meant to pay the people. I say abolish in state tuition and give the money back in the form of a tax break- no one should have to pay for someone else to go to school. And yes, I have children. We are saving what we can for their education like people should be.
Ron Pagano November 06, 2012 at 02:55 PM
April: "Sense of self entitlement?" You are using cliches and unsupported allegations to argue against what? Illegal aliens? Government education encouragement? You obviously have limited vision and don't realize that an educated citizenry benefits us all...the entire nation! Would you prefer that only the wealthy and elite have college educations? One of the problems today is that we are trailing other countries in Math and Science education! How do you propose we stay ahead, technologically, in a world where education is being pursued by everyone except the US? Stop listening to the "talking heads" on TV and start using your head to do some research and find the truth about issues, not cliches and easy answers to tough questions!
Joe November 06, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Joe Pasko, "paying taxes" in NOT any part of the law. FILING taxes is. When an illegal alien files 3 or 4 years of back taxes for their child to qualify, the IRS will see that the filer has been EVADING taxes for those years and at a minimum a penalty will be assessed and that penalty may be the same as the subsidy they will get for school. Not a choice many illegal aliens will take in my opinion.
Steve November 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
They have ITINS. That's how.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
There should no amnesty of any kind for any illegal alien(s). It is not too much to ask that those persons desiring to come to America to live and work do so in a legal manner.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Joe Pasko: Good questions. The parents are not lawfully working. The students cannot lawfully work after graduating. What is going on is "Amnesty by Increments." The various legal obstructions will be gradually removed until the law violator is rewarded with citizenship.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Steve: "Keep Fearing the Brown Man........" A couple of observations: First the "Brown Man" as you say does not have, and should not have more Rights, Privileges, and Status, than the non-Brown Man. Second: What about illegal aliens that are not Brown? Would you and your supporters advocate on their behalf? Would you advocate for the Illegal aliens from Ireland, and or Israel? Thank you.
April November 06, 2012 at 04:00 PM
It is a slap in the face to anyone who has undergone the lenghty process of becoming a legal citizen (I know 3 people from 3 different countries that have gone through it) to allow this. It is also a a welcome mat to condone illegal immigration. If enough people start robbing banks, does that mean the banks should just give up and let people keep the money that has been stolen? When someone takes something illegally it is a crime and it should not be rewarded. That extends to the offspring of those who come here illegally. How many parents do you know that would go to jail or give up everything if it meant a better future for their children? Allowing this would be a victory for criminals, even if it meant they were deported as a result. If someone robbed a bank to give the money to their child, does that mean the child gets to keep it? Also, education has less value if everyone is offered a free pass and pushed through the system based on an idea that everyone deserves a college degree. Not everyone does deserve it! People need to work for what they earn- that includes legal citizens too!
Steve November 06, 2012 at 04:13 PM
No it's not. Anybody that has undergone the process knows how complex the system is and how much it costs to get through it. They would applaud this initiative. That's why these Hate Groups like Help Save Maryland are primarily comprised of White Hillbillies. They have no idea of what the immigration process entails.
Steve November 06, 2012 at 04:14 PM
"Second: What about illegal aliens that are not Brown? Would you and your supporters advocate on their behalf? Would you advocate for the Illegal aliens from Ireland, and or Israel?" We don't see members of the Hate Group Help Save Maryland stomping on the Israeli flag now do we?
April November 06, 2012 at 04:19 PM
@Christopher: Can you please tell me how exactly someone pays SS tax with no SS number? Did you know that legal visitors to this country on a working visa pay no income tax? How then are you assuming that illegal visitors in this country are paying income tax? These are the taxes that pay for in-state tuition. There should be no tuition breaks FOR ANYONE based on residency/ non-residency. If tuition breaks are awarded AT ALL they should be given based on ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE only. THAT would be a good investment in education for the future.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Steve is quoted below: Steve 11:14 am on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 "Second: What about illegal aliens that are not Brown? Would you and your supporters advocate on their behalf? Would you advocate for the Illegal aliens from Ireland, and or Israel?" "We don't see members of the Hate Group Help Save Maryland stomping on the Israeli flag now do we?" Steve, Please explain what make Help Save Maryland a Hate Group? Please tell us about the flag stomping? Please tell us of illegal aliens who are not Brown, will you and your associates support them too?
April November 06, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Actually, two of the people I know have become citizens of this country in the past four years. They are residents of MD and they ARE NOT in support of this bill. I don't know about the agenda of HSM or wether they are hate based, but I do know that my friend and family member do not agree with this bill having undergone the legal process of immigration. I myself am not racist or prejudiced against skin color, but believe that if you really want something you should earn it of your own merit and not have it given to you wether you are a citizen of this country or not. When you have worked to earn what you have you know the true value of it. Lets hold ourselves and others up to higher standards not lower ones.
Ron Pagano November 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
April...again, with the sound bites and cliches, without any thought to what you are saying! According to your lamentable position, America should be ruled by the educated few...those who are wealthy enough to afford an education, because the more educated people there are, the less important an education is. You have no clue what makes a Democracy great! Having a poor, uneducated underclass will not make this country better...it will make it worse. Again, stop with your unsupported cliches and ridiculous analogies! They show you to be very limited in your knowledge and ability to research the facts!
Ron Pagano November 06, 2012 at 04:38 PM
BTW...your statements are a "slap in the face" of the Statue of Liberty and the plaque that accompanies it: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" THIS is what America is about! Stop your hating!
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Steve: On reflection do you think using the term "White Hillbillies" is appropriate?
April November 06, 2012 at 04:42 PM
@Ron P: "Educated citizenry" is what we get when people realize that they have to work for their education and that it isn't given to them at a discounted rate. Stop discounting education and it will be more valuable. If eduation is more valuable than people will want it more and work harder to acheive it. EVERYONE should have to pay for their own tuition wether they are legal or illegal citizens.
Ron Pagano November 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
April...non-citizens DO pay taxes...if they acquire a legal TIN or a fake SS card, which many have, and they have taxes withheld, just like you or I. They also pay sales taxes, every time they go to the store. They also pay real estate taxes, as well as taxes on gas and cigarettes, along with a host of others. BTW...how many of our citizens are on ADC or other programs, like SSI or SSDI, and they, or their children go to college...WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY INCOME TAXES? There is nothing wrong with that concept...we are all better off by having our citizens educated. I have 2 boys who benefitted from Pell grants and academic scholarships...one is receiving his PhD, the other is working on his undergrad degree! STOP THE HATE!
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Ron Pagano: Did you know that the sonnet The New Colossus was written in 1883? Did you know it was written by Emma Lazarus? Did you know she dies in 1887? Did you know the sonnet was entered in, and won a contest? Did you know that the sonnet does not have the force of law? Did you know that the sonnet was placed on the Statue of Liberty in 1903?
April November 06, 2012 at 05:08 PM
@Ron P: Oh Ron!!! Yes, I do think that the educated (not the wealthy) should should be running this country. You are confusing money and education. If you read more closely you will find that what I said was that no one should be offered a free pass. If academic excellence is rewarded with decreased tuition, that would be one thing, but we are not talking about merit based scholarships here. That I would be in support of. We are talking about lowering tuition based on residency, and as I have stated before, NO ONE should get a lower rate for tuition based on residency-including "white hillbilies" and any other race of people in this world.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Ron Pagano said: Ron Pagano 11:47 am on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 April...non-citizens DO pay taxes...if they acquire a legal TIN or a fake SS card, which many have, and they have taxes withheld, just like you or I. They also pay sales taxes, every time they go to the store. They also pay real estate taxes, as well as taxes on gas and cigarettes, along with a host of others. BTW...how many of our citizens are on ADC or other programs, like SSI or SSDI, and they, or their children go to college...WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY INCOME TAXES? There is nothing wrong with that concept...we are all better off by having our citizens educated. I have 2 boys who benefitted from Pell grants and academic scholarships...one is receiving his PhD, the other is working on his undergrad degree! STOP THE HATE! ******************************************************************************************** ******************************************************************************************** Ron Pagano, you say, "STOP THE HATE." Does this include enforcing our Nation's immigration laws? How is that hateful? Thank you.
AmericanMarine November 06, 2012 at 05:22 PM
My family has a tradition of being those on the cutting edge of protecting the Constitution and insuring your rights and safety. These rights are given to Americans as our birthright and for those wanting to claim the title of an American, there should be a process to make sure they embrace the same values. Until 2/3 of the states agree to reduce the cost of citizenship and to change the system, we must abide by our Constitution . Change has to done the right way and I am looking forward to that happening.
April November 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I agree that having educated citizens is important. I do not argue with the merit of academic based scholarships. I am an advocate for higher learning. Tuition breaks should be given based on ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE not based on residency or on the amount of taxes they have paid- THAT would increase the value of education. Giving away education at a discount rate to sub-par students solely based on residency does not benefit anyone. It decreases the value of a degree, decreases the drive of the student to acheive better grades, and decreases the benefit available to those that are excelling. You can not make someone educated just by sending them to school, that is something a person has to want enough to earn it for themselves regardless of their financial or racial situation. Congrats to your sons! They sound like they are hard-working and an asset to the nation.
April November 06, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I agree that having educated citizens is important. I do not argue with the merit of academic based scholarships. I am an advocate for higher learning. Tuition breaks should be given based on ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE not based on residency or on the amount of taxes they have paid- THAT would increase the value of education. Giving away education at a discount rate to sub-par students solely based on residency does not benefit anyone. It decreases the value of a degree, decreases the drive of the student to acheive better grades, and decreases the benefit available to those that are excelling. You can not make someone educated just by sending them to school, that is something a person has to want enough to earn it for themselves regardless of their financial or racial situation. Congrats to your sons! They sound like they are hard-working and an asset to the nation.
Steve November 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM
A Federal judge ordered Florida to provide instate tuition for undocumented students. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/06/3084668/florida-college-students-with.html
Steve November 06, 2012 at 10:03 PM
....so the Federal Judge ruled it Unconstitutional.. That is going to have a widespread effect.
jnrentz1 November 06, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Steve: No. You are wrong. US District Judge Moore ordered that US citizens whose parents are illegal aliens must be provided instate tuition at Florida Public Colleges and Universities. Florida had been classifying students according to their parents illegal immigration status. Judge Moore rules that this practice violated the Constitutions Equal Protection provision.
SG from PH December 21, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I know right from wrong and legal from illegal - it is just that simple. Although Pat and I have been in opposition over the years campaign wise, he is 100% right, or more clearly, correct on this issue.
Urge Tech January 03, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Highly descriptive post, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2? http://www.cheaprvcamping.com

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