Maryland voters will decide on Nov. 6, 2012, whether their state will join 10 others in allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition at state schools. Kojo explores how Maryland's Dream Act decision will affect local immigrant communities and how the ballot initiative fits into federal immigration politics.
Question 4 on the Maryland ballot asks voters to weigh in on the state's so-called Dream Act. The law allows some undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. Several requirements apply, including graduation from a Maryland high school, annual filing of income tax returns and completion of two years at a community college. The state's General Assembly passed the law and Governor Martin O'Malley signed it last year, but opponents collected enough signatures to force it onto the ballot as a referendum.
Proponents of the measure say the state would see increased graduation rates at both the university and high school levels, followed by economic benefits such as greater home ownership. Opponents say the law would make Maryland an attractive destination for illegal immigration, ultimately costing the state more money and jobs.
March 14, 2011
Maryland Senate passed Bill 167, Maryland Dream Act
April 4, 2011
Maryland House of Delegates passed the Dream Act
April 8, 2011
Conference Committee approved the bill’s final language
May 10, 2011
Signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D)
May 31, 2011
State Delegate Neil Parrott (R) filed an online petition against the Dream Act
June 22, 2011
The local board of elections verified that the minimum number of initial signatures had been collected in order to place the measure on the 2012 ballot