Immigrant advocates celebrated Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's signing of a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition May 10.
The bill, known as Maryland's "DREAM Act" due to its similarity to federal bill of that name, was passed by the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law in May.
Those who oppose Maryland's Dream Act need to get 8,448 additional signatures by the end of the month in order to place the matter on a statewide referendum next year.
Les Francis is with the group Help Save Maryland. He says voters, not legislators, should decide if some undocumented students will be allowed to pay in-state tuition at a time when the state is facing budget deficits.
"It's a grassroots effort," he says. "It's getting people behind an issue that they feel strongly about."
A significant portion of the signatures validated already appear to have been collected through an internet portal, instead of the traditional face to face canvassing.
Those who helped the DREAM Act get passed are promising to sue if the board of elections certifies the referendum initiative.
"The verification process is certainly a lot less rigorous than would be required for someone when doing on the ground work in a public location," says Rev. Peter Schell, one supporter of the law. "And so we're concerned that its a lot easier to generate a large number of fraudulent signatures through this mechanism."
Schell is with a coalition called One Maryland Defense, which was created to ensure the Dream Act is not repealed. Student Jaquie Cruz is one person hoping the referendum fails.
"I would be paying three times what a citizen does, and that would be hard for me, because I'm just living with my mom," she says.
If the referendum drive is certified it would stop the DREAM Act from taking effect until after the November 2012 vote.