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Latino Daily News

Wednesday July 20, 2011

Maryland DREAM Act Struggling as Opponents Produce 130,000 Signatures to Stop it From Taking Effect

Maryland DREAM Act Struggling as Opponents Produce 130,000 Signatures to Stop it From Taking Effect

Photo: Maryland DREAM Act Struggling as Opponents Produce 130,000 Signatures to Stop it From Taking Effect

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A petition of 130,000 signatures of people against allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition in Maryland could put the issue on the 2012 ballot.

Despite the fact that the Maryland DREAM Act passed and was set to go into effect on July 1, it could still be shot down as petitioners push to bring it to a public vote next November.

“There are some who try to portray it as free tuition for illegal immigrants, and that’s not what it is,” Gov. Martin O’Malley told the Westminster Patch. “Once people learn that and once people kind of break through the hype and the hate that’s been wrapped around it, I think people will make a fair decision.

Immediately after Gov. O’Malley signed the bill in May, opponents began a campaign for a referendum to stop it.

Though it appears that more signatures than necessary have been collected for the petition, immigrations advocates are contesting the means by which they were collected.

Maryland’s largest immigrant advocacy group, Casa Maryland, filed a public information request of those who signed the petitions. The American Civil Liberties Union is backing the request.

Kim Propeack, Casa Maryland’s lead political organizer, said the inquiry is to make an “independent determination about whether the board violated the law in validating the signatures.”

The Maryland State Board of Elections has until July 20 to count the petition’s signatures and until July 22 to verify them.

The Maryland DREAM Act would allow undocumented students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition at any public 2- and 4-year college or university in the state, if their parents filed to pay state taxes, and if the student graduated from a Maryland high school that they attended for at least 3 years.