This week, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill to require the state’s public universities to give undocumented aliens–generally illegal–in-state tuition privileges.
The bill, known as the Dream Act, is already the law in ten other states, including California, New York, Texas and Illinois.
But critics argue that the bill will give illegal aliens better treatment than Americans and legal immigrants–thanks to existing diversity policies at universities.
University of Maryland (College Park) computer science Prof. James Purtilo told FoxNews.com that, during his time as an associate dean, he frequently saw admission officers favor students because of their “undocumented” status.
“They favor students with special circumstances. ‘Undocumented alien’ would be one of these special circumstances. . . . They help fill out the diversity picture for the admissions office.”
“It was just the norm,” Purtillo added, “that obviously we need more of these students [undocumented aliens] . . . ‘this student has a real story to tell’ would be a common thing the admissions officers would say. Or that ‘they’re enriching the College Park experience.'”
Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, which pushed for the bill, said he thought the concern over affirmative action was a non-issue. He noted that in the current system, undocumented immigrants are discriminated against in many ways.
“I don’t see how [they could have an advantage.] Those kids don’t qualify for anything at this point–their only benefit right now is in-state tuition. They can’t get scholarships or anything.”
Critics of the Dream acts say that affirmative action is simply built into the system for most illegal immigrants.
“Almost everyone who would benefit from the DREAM act would also benefit from affirmative action,” Steven Camarota, the research director for the think tank Center for Immigration Studies told FoxNews.com.
“A state school wouldn’t say, well, you’re a Dream Act kid, so you don’t get affirmative action,” he added. “I worked in admissions at a small college for a while (at Juniata, Pa.) and the affirmative action stuff just runs on auto pilot. If you check the box, you get put in the [affirmative action] applicant pool. That’s just how it works.
“We have to ask the question: Can you have mass immigration and affirmative action? Does that lead to a just social policy?”
Affirmative action benefits can be substantial. A study of selective universities by Princeton sociologists Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford found that listing one’s race as “Hispanic” instead of ‘White” increased the likelihood of being admitted by the same amount as scoring an extra 130 points on the SAT. Compared to Asians, the study found, Hispanics receive a 240-point advantage.