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Montana voters approved a referendum that will curtail fiscal problems related to illegal immigration while Maryland voters passed an in-state tuition referendum that will add to the state’s fiscal difficulties.

The Montana referendum -- approved by a 79-21 margin -- requires proof of citizenship or lawful alien status in order to receive certain services, including state licenses, employment in state agencies, unemployment or disability benefits, or state aid for university students. All non-citizen applicants for state services will be checked for eligibility through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) calculates the annual net tab for Montana’s 5,000 illegal aliens at $30 million. Supporters of the referendum argued that Montana needed to discourage illegal immigration now before it mushroomed out of control like in states such as Maryland.

The so-called Maryland “DREAM Act” referendum, which voters passed by a 59-41 margin, gives illegal aliens access to subsidized in-state tuition rates. A related measure became law in 2011, but opponents mounted a petition drive to let the voters decide whether it should remain on the books. The petition drive obtained more than 110,000 signatures, almost twice the required number, but voters supported the measure in the end. Proponents raised over $1.5 million for ads and get-out-the-vote efforts while opponents largely relied on grassroots efforts.

The “MD DREAM Act” forces taxpayers to pay approximately $16,000 of the college tuition costs for illegal-alien students in state colleges, universities and a smaller amount for community colleges. FAIR estimates that prior to passage of the referendum, illegal aliens and their dependents cost Maryland taxpayers $1.86 billion annually. That amounts to a $910 a year burden per Maryland household headed by a U.S. citizen.

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