Maryland became the 11th state to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, but Georgia regents barred unauthorized immigrants from attending the state’s top universities. The moves come in the wake of a major defeat for activists supporting unauthorized immigrants. From Stateline:
The DREAM Act failed in the U.S. Senate by a handful of votes last December, and the chances of it coming up again dropped dramatically with the Republican takeover of the U.S. House this January. Some of the energy previously directed toward the federal government has now been channeled to the state level.
The fight over the federal DREAM Act encouraged dozens of undocumented students to reveal their status publicly. Many now are becoming vocal on the state level.
That was one of the biggest changes this year in Maryland, says Helen Melton, who pushed for in-state tuition rights on behalf of the immigrant advocacy group Casa de Maryland. “The students,” she says, “came out to support the bill just about every time something important was happening.” Many of those who spoke up were honor students in high school. When they told elected officials about their struggles to afford a college education, it was “really powerful,” Melton says.
But, of course, the fight over higher education is ancillary to the much larger issue.
Whatever most states do, there is no escaping the fact that without changes in federal law, college degrees will not help unauthorized immigrants find jobs in the United States. They will be unable to obtain legal work permits. Many continue to hold out hope that, despite the current absence of federal momentum, Congress will eventually change that policy.