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Nov. 2, 2012

Living the American DREAM

by Mimi Verdonk, Online Sports Editor and Stacy Mathew, Online Opinions and Features Editor
Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

As the college application season gets into full swing, seniors seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulders. While many students at Blair think they have it tough, imagine applying to colleges, searching for scholarships and fighting to stay in the country. For some Blazers this isn't just a hypothetical, this is reality.

Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 11.5 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. Though the exact number in Maryland alone is not known, estimates are in the hundreds of thousands. According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration has deported the most illegal immigrants of any presidency at an estimate of 1.4 million.

Volunteers for CASA de Maryland rally together in favor of voting 'Yes' to Question 4. Courtesy of Metro Latino USA
Volunteers for CASA de Maryland rally together in favor of voting 'Yes' to Question 4.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, originally pioneered by Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) in 2001 but struck down in Congress, would have created a six-year path to citizenship for those who came to America as minors and served either in the military or went to college. The bill has been reintroduced in 2009 and 2011. In June, President Barack Obama announced temporary relief of deportation for minors who abide by the law and look to become American citizens. In response to both of these motions, Maryland has proposed its own DREAM Act, which will be Question Four on the state ballot. Maryland's version of the bill will give an opportunity those who immigrated here illegally, but pay taxes and have graduated from a Maryland high school, to attend community college for two years and transfer to a four-year university, paying in-state tuition. On Nov. 6, the fate of many Blazers will be decided.

Though the Washington Post estimates that the bill should receive a 'Yes' from nearly 60 percent of Maryland voters, the final say is a cause of much consternation for many of those impacted, such as Blair senior Carol. Since crossing the Texas-Mexico border at the age of 10 coming from El Salvador, Carol has found a home in Maryland. A solid, hard-working student, Carol dreams of becoming a pediatrician and opening her own private office. Under the Maryland Dream Act, doors will be opened for Carol, who struggles to find afterschool employment because of her immigration status. "This is going to give me many opportunities," she says.

Senior Alexandra is facing a similar predicament to Carol. Having immigrated to Maryland at the age of 11 because of political turmoil in Bolivia, she feels as though Question Four and Obama's executive order are finally giving her the hope to live life like the average American teenager, such as being concerned with the trivial things like passing her driving test. Though she believes her academic life would not be very different had she stayed in Bolivia, Alexandra sees moving to the U.S. as a catalyst for increased responsibility and maturity. Despite previously being pessimistic about what the future would hold for her as a youth with no documentation, Alexandra has been inspired by the Maryland Dream Act to continue working hard. "The act motivates me to keep fighting for my dreams, to keep working harder for my ambitions because everything is getting better for the immigrant community," she says.

Senior Carol studies hard in the hopes of attending college and one day gaining citizenship. Claudia Quinonez
Senior Carol studies hard in the hopes of attending college and one day gaining citizenship.
Though Alexandra and Carol both marvel over the benefits that Maryland's legislation could bring to them, they share the concern that too many of their affected peers are unaware of their status. Many of the people they know believe the legislation is aimed exclusively at the Spanish-speaking population. "Most people think that only Latinos are going to be affected by it," Alexandra says. "I know more than a half dozen of people who come from India, Ireland and China, who are undocumented and are applying for the Dream Act."

As a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) transition specialist, Kristin Ruopp echoes the fact that the act affects much more than the Hispanic population. Working with many "Dreamers," Ruopp urges students to know their official immigration status and to be preemptive in their post-high school plans. "People don't even know they are affected until their senior year," she says.

Blair parent Susan Fleck, who lobbied in Annapolis, Md., for the bill and helped get the resolution passed in the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations knows the significance of the Nov. 6 vote for many Blazers. Having hosted "Dreamers" from various states and having worked closely with a variety of people who will be impacted, Fleck hopes that the act will provide opportunity to those who would not have otherwise had it. "Many 'Dreamers' graduate from Blair and have no future unless we speak and vote for them," she says.

Though the Maryland Dream Act would only save money for those classified as illegal immigrants, it is often acknowledged as the first step towards a larger goal of gaining citizenship for Marylanders who have called the state home in their hearts for years, but never by law. The Maryland Dream Act, in addition to Obama's executive order, has given hope to thousands of teenagers like Carol and Alexandra. Students statewide are working hard to earn their keep in this country and achieve the better life their parents brought them here to attain. "I want to have the opportunity to [attend] college, have a better future and be able to provide for my family," Carol says.

As early voting continues to take place and Marylanders eagerly await Nov. 6 to cast their votes, the futures of many Blazers are waiting to be decided. Research released in early October by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County shows any amount up to $66 million could be circulated into the state economy by helping to finance the education of those without official documentation. For Fleck and other supporters, however, the choice is less monetary and more about morality. "Living without papers is not young people's choice, it is their reality," Fleck says. "We cannot waste the lives of thousands of our Maryland youth today because they are our future."

The Maryland Dream Act, Question Four on the state ballot, will be up for voting on Nov. 6. Please contact the State Board of Elections or visit the Board's website to find your polling location.



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  • Jose (View Email) on November 2, 2012 at 10:44 AM
    The Maryland Legislature has:
    - Raised tuition at state universities 3% per year for 3 years.
    - Eliminated the Maryland Distinguished Scholars Program that provided small scholarships to out best high school graduates in an effort to keep them in state.
    - Cut the Univiersity of Maryland System budget

    Yet there is money available to provide in-state tuition to illemal immigrants who have already benefited from taxpayer funded free K-12 education? No there isn't.

    The illegals will take full tuition paying seats from legal out-of-state citizens or students attending on legal student visas. The end result will be more tuition increases and further burdens on the Maryland taxpayers.

  • Patty (View Email) on November 2, 2012 at 10:48 AM
    Presently, tens of thousands of American out of state students and foreign nationals pay hundreds of millions of dollars into our education system. They must pay out-of-state tuition fees. Their contributions pay for about 25% of the operating costs of colleges, bringing relief to Maryland taxpayers. The Dream Act student, not having to pay out-of-state tuition costs if the Dream Act is enacted, will displace these out-of-state tuition students, causing a loss in revenue. This loss must be replaced by the taxpayers, tuition increases, or reduced spending.

    All 16 community colleges in Maryland are currently underfunded. Most of them have increased their tuition rates at least twice during the past four years. Every time an illegal alien student assumes a slot, a reduced amount of funding is suffered by the community college. As the revenue in college decreases and the student burdens increase, the number of slots available is reduced. "Open enrollment" is based only on revenue availability. The Dream Act will create "displacement" of Maryland citizen students. Last year, about 27,000 people applied for entrance into the University of Maryland. Only 7,000 were accepted.



  • Dave Francis (View Email) on November 2, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    MORE THAN THEY ARE TELLING US?

    What are we getting ourselves into, if President Obama returns to the Capital? The major issue that is a threat to America’s economy is the promise of Obama in approving a passage of amnesty for the 20 million or more of illegal aliens who have illicitly settled in the United States. The fact that neither party will enact E-Verify, part of the LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT, which would ensure illegal aliens, will not no longer be stealing jobs from the 7.9 citizens or legal residents? ICE will prosecute employers to the full extent of the law, if only this bill becomes a nationwide event; same as THE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL. Both bills are held up and not going the floor, as both political parties are held hostage by the Senate majority speaker Nevada’s Harry Reid and the upper elites in the Republican Party. The public gets no say in the matter as the special interests groups buy their votes.

    A straightforward adjustment to the BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL would eliminate pregnant women smuggling their unborn into America. If every parent who slips past our border guards or hops off a plane on our soil would think differently knowing that unless they were citizens, their child could not collect a path to citizenship. Annually around 400.000 women smuggle their unborn into America, attracted by all the free welfare programs including the hospital delivery. This seemingly innocent invasion will never end, unless the people of this nation speak up and do something. Taxpayers are the payee for every migrant and illegal immigrant who reaches this country, but the Democrats and GOP just allow it to continue. The only opponents are the TEA PARTY who are slowly gaining headway, inside the Republican Party and ousting incumbents.

    The Liberal media stays silent about another amnesty being pressed by Obama in a possible next term and major news is severely suppressed such as the Benghazi murderous carnage. Of course the truth about this terrible incident has been carefully concealed by the main stream press as the general election closes in? They have no intentions of causing a storm before the voting is caste. Three men plus the Ambassador, who ended up dead, continuously demanded help from the U.S. government that was denied. Investigate the facts of this awful issue at FOXNEWS or complete a search on any major Search Engine. Same with the energy industry who have been intimidated by Obama’s goons in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that have placed obstacles for requested permits. Readers only have to look at the governmental impediments to run the Canadian pipeline of oil supplies to Texas. That gas prices keep rising, because Obama’s liberal Czars think that Windmills, Solar and other forms of green energy could take the place of fossil fuels?

    Gasoline, natural gas and clean coal are in demand now and have been cut back, because of the involvement with the environmentalists. Then we have the “Fast and Furious” gun running controversy. High powered weapons ending up in the hands of the drug cartels and another on the hands of the top officials. Maybe not Obama directly involved in these actions, except his idea to give every American and illegal alien a right to nationalized health care, which will be a monolithic burden around the neck of every taxpayer and businesses alike. Its not right that the U.S. courts can force on all taxpayers, over 113 billion dollars a year to support foreign nationals. Its no right that we must indulge illegal aliens and their children for their rest of their lives. DOESN'T THIS GOVERNMENT UNDERSTAND, OR ANY PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION, POLITICIAN, ELECTED OFFICIAL COMPREHEND THAT BY CONTINUOUSLY FINANCING ILLEGAL ALIENS, WITH WELFARE AND OTHER PUBLIC FUNDS THAT THE WELCOME MAT WILL ATTRACT THE POVERTY AND DESPERATE OF OTHER NATIONS.
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