Immigrant advocates celebrated Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's signing of a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition May 10.
Opponents are mounting a petition drive that must gather more than 55,000 signatures by the end of June in order to force a referendum on the bill, which has been dubbed "Maryland's DREAM Act" after a similar bill in the U.S. Congress that failed in 2010.
If petitioners succeed, voters will decide the bill's fate in the fall of 2012.
A successful petition would also stop the bill from going into effect this year according to Maryland Delegate Mike McDermott (R-Eastern Shore).
"A lot of the folks have picked it up. It's out there electronically," he says. "A lot of people are using Facebook and e-mails to get the petition signed. The response has been phenomenal."
Many opponents say the bill will encourage illegal behavior. Supporters, like the immigrant rights advocacy group Casa De Maryland, dispute that.
"I don't think so, because these are people who are already here, and making a contribution to this nation," says Gustavo Torres, the group's executive director.
To receive the in-state tuition rate, undocumented students must graduate from a Maryland high school, and their parents must prove they have paid state taxes for at least three years.
Torres says his group will begin efforts to teach those parents and students that could benefit from how to pay state taxes.
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