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- 11-03-2012, 09:08 AM #1
Md. version of Dream Act up to popular vote
Md. version of Dream Act up to popular vote
Posted: 2:22 pm Fri, November 2, 2012
By Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland could become the first state in the nation to decide by popular vote that illegal immigrants can be eligible for in-state college tuition, if students have attended a high school in the state for three years and if they or their parents have paid state income taxes during that time, along with other requirements.
State lawmakers approved the measure last year after long debate in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. However, opponents led by Republican lawmakers successfully petitioned the law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to the ballot. It was the first of three successful petition drives that helped create an unusually long ballot this year in Maryland. Measures to allow same-sex marriage and the state’s congressional redistricting map also were successfully petitioned to the voters to decide.
Maryland voters have had a long time to consider the tuition measure, which was signed into law more than a year ago by the Democratic governor before it was put on hold by the successful petition drive.
“I gave quite a bit of thought to it, and I’ve listened to quite a few different opinions and there again, the more you listen the more you scratch your head, but the people who believe it’s the right thing to do, I think, have the better argument in the long run,” said Dick Glass, a 69-year-old Annapolis resident. He voted early on Thursday evening in favor of the question because he thinks it will make illegal immigrants more productive citizens.
But other voters who participated in early voting say they don’t believe someone in the country illegally should get a benefit that U.S. citizens in states outside of Maryland can’t.
“They’re legally in this country, but they have to pay out-of-state rates,” said David Morsberger, 47, noting that someone from neighboring Pennsylvania would have to pay much higher rates to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, the state’s flagship university.
The difference in tuition rates is substantial at the University of Maryland, College Park. In-state tuition is $7,175 for the 2012-2013 academic year. Out-of-state tuition is $25,554.
Other opponents say approval of the ballot question could turn Maryland into a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants at a time when some believe there are too many here already. Critics also say the measure is unfair to people who have made the effort to become U.S. citizens legally.
“I’ve had so many people tell me that: ‘I’m getting out of here. I feel like I’m in Little Havana,’” said Sue Jones, 58, who voted against the ballot question in Annapolis. “I heard that the other day.”
But supporters say they believe the required qualifications strongly put the students on the road to citizenship. They also note that the measure is geared to help people who were brought to the United States as children.
“I think people, especially students, who had no control over the actions of their parents — but are in that situation — that’s a way to assimilate them into the United States as citizens,” said Dave Dragics, 66, who said he voted for the ballot question Thursday evening.
Groups supporting immigrant rights have led a grassroots effort to support the measure, dating back to when the legislation was before the Maryland General Assembly last year to recent days. Clergy from a variety of denominations also have spoken out in favor of the ballot question.
While about a dozen other states currently allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, none of the measures in those states has been decided by voters. Supporters of the Maryland law note that there is a long list of requirements for students to qualify under the Maryland proposal.
Besides the high school and tax requirements, students also must state their intention to apply for permanent residency and register with the selective service, if they are required to do so. Students also would have to first complete 60 credit hours or graduate from a community college before becoming eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university.
The ballot question also extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans who are stationed in Maryland may qualify for in-state tuition rates from one to four years.
Md. version of Dream Act up to popular vote | Maryland Daily RecordU.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!
- 11-03-2012, 09:24 AM #2
Illegal immigration: why eyes will be on Maryland this Election Day
Maryland's in-state tuition referendum is the only big-ticket illegal-immigration issue before voters this Election Day. How Maryland goes could influence other states – and Congress.
By David Grant, Staff writer / November 2, 2012
Immigrant advocates hope the Maryland DREAM Act could help prime Washington’s discussion of immigration policy, a topic both President Obama and Mitt Romney say they want to address if they win the Nov. 6 election.
Maryland stands alone in the nation as the only state with a high-profile immigration issue going before voters Tuesday. Question 4 asks voters to endorse or reject a law that approved in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants at state universities.
Though 11 other states already allow illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition at state universities, no other state has asked voters to weigh in, says Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
A victory Tuesday could show lawmakers that “not only did the sky not fall, [but] generally speaking it was a well-received move, not just within the immigrant community, not just within the Latino electorate, but generally,” says Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza.
Maryland's DREAM Act, which draws its moniker from a stalled US Senate bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for young illegal immigrants, was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in May. But conservatives put it on the ballot as a popular referendum in a bid to stop it.
The act would require illegal immigrants to graduate from a Maryland high school, provide a minimum of three years of their parents' filed income taxes, intend to apply for permanent residency when possible, and register with the Selective Service system. If students meet those requirements, they would be able to qualify for in-state tuition for two years at a state community college, followed by two years at a state university. Estimates suggest that several hundred students a year could be eligible; they will not be counted against university caps for in-state students.
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Polling has shown support as high as 60 percent for Question 4, and some observers have been surprised by the level of support for the initiative. Activists opposed to the law submitted more than double the necessary signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
“I would have predicted that question being defeated 60-40, at least,” says state Sen. Jim Brochin (D), who voted against the measure but hasn’t advocated for its defeat as a referendum. "I don’t think [opponents] anticipated the other side being able to make their case.”
But organizers in favor of Question 4 have raised more than $1 million and built a coalition that includes labor unions, immigration advocates, the NAACP, and faith groups. That’s in contrast to the opposition – a handful of state lawmakers and dedicated grass-roots activists who, as one put it, “clearly don’t have Governor O’Malley hosting dinners for us and raising funds.”
Those opposed to the measure are hoping to make a national statement Tuesday.
“If we lose, it’s, ‘Everyone expected us to lose, because Maryland is such a liberal state,’ ” says Brad Botwin, an activist running Help Save Maryland, which opposes the measure. “If we win, and I’m hopeful that we’re going to, it really shows that this is a nonpartisan issue: cost and fairness to our own kids. College is not emergency health-care. College is not K-12 [education]. This is discretionary, and they can pay their own way.”
But DREAM advocates, too, think that winning could be important beyond the state.
State legislatures tend to pluck both pro- and anti-illegal immigration legislation from one another, says NSCL's Ms. Morse, citing other red-state legislatures' interest in Arizona’s hard-line immigration law. With the right restrictions and guidelines, Maryland's Question 4 could spread to other like-minded states, too, advocates add.
The requirement that parents of illegal immigrants provide three years' back taxes “has been a novel introduction,” says Kristin Ford, a spokesperson for Educating Maryland’s Kids, which is organizing support for Question 4. “That was an intentional, politically strategic move to shore up more moderate and independent support, and we see that in how well we’re polling.”
What's more, with both presidential candidates promising to move on immigration early in their next term, affirmation of the DREAM concept at the state level could also signal to federal lawmakers that the politics of immigration may not be as toxic as they might otherwise appear.
“You could argue that members of both parties have been shying away from the issue,” says Ms. Martinez de Castro of La Raza.
The measure's victory also would reaffirm that while states from Maryland to Arizona are doing what they can on illegal immigration, they are often working at cross purposes and a comprehensive solution to illegal immigration is beyond their grasp.
“We want to be able to, with a victory, send a message to Congress – as a state, there are some things we can do,” says Ms. Ford, “but what we can’t do is give [undocumented immigrants] a path to citizenship, what we can’t do is protect them from deportation, what we can’t do is give them work permits.”
That, she notes, is the federal government's job alone.
Illegal immigration: why eyes will be on Maryland this Election Day - CSMonitor.comU.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!
- 11-03-2012, 06:56 PM #3
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I live in W. Maryland and everyone I know is against Amendment 4. The big pro-illegal alien push is down in the south - Montgomery County and the DC suburbs where so many of them live.
Almost no action up here at all. I wrote a letter to the local paper but that is about it. I am afraid there was a big push to get the petition signed but not a big push to get it passed. All the action has been on the pro-illegal alien side and they are spending millions to pass this referendum.