Legal immigrants join fight against Dream Act

“These people are taking seats in college away from our kids. Why should we reward their dishonest behavior?” Shakil Hamid, 44, an accountant in Gaithersburg who emigrated legally from Bangladesh in 1977

Ricky Campos Alfaro, 22, goes over biology notes with his sister, Marcela Campos Alfaro, 26, in Silver Spring. A student at Montgomery College, he tries to explain assignments to his sister to help reinforce his own understanding.

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.”

Anuchit Washirapunya, a legal immigrant from Thailand, tends his barbershop in the Unique Thrift Shop Bazaar on Nov. 21, 2011, in Wheaton. He is opposed to illegal immigrants getting fee reductions for college tuition.

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 issue of what to do about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States has roiled Republican presidential debates. In recent years, it has spawned national movements that advocate a range of solutions, including forcing all illegal immigrants to return home and granting them all legal amnesty.


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