As many Marylanders know, Governor O'Malley signed into law SB167, dubbed the "DREAM Act", which allows immigrants of any status to apply to Maryland colleges and pay "in-state" tuition rates. When a resident of any state applies to a public college in which he/she resides, he/she pays lower rates predicated on the assumptions that 1) their tax dollars help subsidize the college and 2) that they are law-abiding citizens or properly-recognzied aliens.
In today's issue of the Catholic Standard, the Maryland Catholic Conference issued this statement congratulating O'Malley for signing the bill into law. While the issue of tuition assistance may be a matter on which good people can disagree, I find much fault with the MCC's statement. It doesn't state forthrightly the case that the DREAM act's opponents put forth. Indeed, the MCC glosses over the distinction between immigrants who are here legally, and those who are here illegally.
Here is one such problematic sentence: "We do not condone breaking the law, and fully recognize the legitimate concerns our state and country faces regarding illegal immigration. These problems cannot be solved, however, by harshly denying the needs of those who live and work among us here and now, especially the young. The in-state tuition bill is a balanced measure that benefits immigrant children mostly brought here through no fault of their own, and who are making the right choices in order to lead productive lives." Let's unpack this mess, piece by piece.
First, notice that word "harshly". MCC, that's called "demonizing your opposition", and I'm calling you on it! Good people, with valid reasons, oppose this bill, and you call that "harsh"? Who do you think you are?? Second, while you claim that you don't condone breaking the law, your act of rewarding the illegal behavior does precisely that. Third, about this "balanced measure" claim. It will cost the Maryland taxpayers about $3-4 million by the year 2016. Quite a few of these taxpayers are having trouble affording tuition for themselves or their children - and this is a "balanced measure"? Fourth, as far as "making the right choice", no they aren't, when it comes to essentially unseating other eligible young people. Moreover, when the MCC calls such actions "making the right choices", what does that teach these young people about rule of law, of pulling your own weight, not depending on handouts, etc.
Next set of fallacies from the MCC! "We are therefore strongly opposed to efforts to close the door on this opportunity by petitioning the bill to a statewide referendum. A statewide referendum on the issue of immigration will have a needlessly divisive impact on our state, and we urge Catholics and all Marylanders to refrain from signing on to this petition effort." Notice how the MCC is afraid of a vote. Dear MCC! Remember what I said about this being an issue on which good people can disagree? This is it. I've got more shocking news for you. We live in a consitutional republic, and that constitution provides for redress for the people. You are in effect asking people to swallow more taxes in silence - but that ain't happenin'!! As far as the "needlessly divisvie impact", do you really mean "opposition to your opinion"? That's all it can mean. I have more news for you; this division already exists - and that's not a bad thing (see the post on "division" from Tuesday). Whether you like it or not, the citizens of the state of Maryland deserve the chance to vote on this measure - even Catholics!
This Catholic is signing the petition and I'm urging my fellow Catholics to sign it, too - the politically-correct, progressive proclivities of the Maryland Catholic Conference notwithstanding!