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Tipsheet

Legal Immigrants Against the DREAM Act

As the 2012 election season continues to heat up, so will the issue of illegal immigration. Nobody seems to have a valid and fair solution to dealing with illegal immigrants who are already here, children of illegals brought here by their parents at a young age and more. One piece of legislation that has been thrown around for awhile now is the DREAM Act, which would all children brought here by their illegal parents at a young age, to gain U.S. citizenship by either going to college or joining the military. The DREAM Act failed at the federal level, but some states have implemented it on their own, including Texas and an effort was put forth to do so in Maryland. (Why isn't the Obama Justice Department suing them? I thought Holder didn't want a "patch work" of immigration policies?) Legal immigrants who didn't break the law to come here themselves or to bring their children here illegally, aren't impressed with either the DREAM Act or rewarding illegal behavior.

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The 62-year-old Wheaton barber had earned a law degree in his native Thailand and waited eight years for a visa so he could move to the United States and begin a new life.

When he heard this year about the Maryland Dream Act, which would grant in-state college tuition discounts to illegal immigrants, he was outraged.

“I did the full legal process,” Anuchit Washirapunya, who is deaf and cannot speak English, wrote on a notepad as he hunched in his barber’s chair. “The illegal students have no right to work or stay here.”

Until recently, Maryland’s legal and political battle over in-state tuition has been seen as pitting young illegal immigrants against native residents. But in the past few months, a petition drive by opponents of the measure has attracted a small but growing number of legal immigrants, who say that they, too, are being cheated.

The Dream Act, which was passed by both houses of the Maryland legislature in April, was about to become law when an advocacy group called Help Save Maryland, working with Republican lawmakers, launched an online campaign to try to prevent it from being enacted. The drive garnered more than 100,000 electronic signatures, resulting in the suspension of the law until a statewide public referendum can be held next year.

One Marylander who clicked on the petition was Shakil Hamid, 44, an accountant in Gaithersburg who emigrated legally from Bangladesh in 1977. He is an enthusiastic member of Help Save Maryland, which opposes allowing illegal immigrants to work, drive or receive a variety of public benefits.

“These people are taking seats in college away from our kids,” Hamid said. “Why should we reward their dishonest behavior?”

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A fact that seems to be getting lost in the illegal immigration discussion is this: illegal immigration is a crime. Coming into the United States without permission is a crime. Law abiding illegal immigrants do not exist. They broke the law by coming into the country without permission in the first place. Also, illegal immigration always seems to get boxed into a Latino box, when it the issue is about illegal immigration as a whole, about the law, not about race or ethnicity.

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