From the New Harford Democratic Club:
The Dream Act, which would allow resident immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland public colleges and universities, is supported by a majority of Marylanders according to recent polls, but misinformation from those opposed could affect the outcome of the November referendum, according to a supporter of the legislation.
“This is a very winnable issue but it is going to take a big effort to get out the vote, “ said Elizabeth Alex, Lead Organizer for Central Maryland of CASA De Maryland, an immigrant support group leading the “YES” vote campaign. “We are reaching out to organizations throughout the state to register voters and urge them to vote yes.”
Speaking before the New Harford Democratic Club on Wednesday (June 6), Alex said opponents of the act, which was passed by the legislature last year, have been citing false information in order to convince voters to reject the act. Although the act passed the legislature, opponents were able to gather enough signatures from registered voters to have the legislation put to referendum in November.
The Dream Act would allow immigrants who have graduated from Maryland high schools to pay same tuition as all other graduates at Maryland’s public colleges and universities, if they meet certain criteria. “It’s a question of fairness and doing the right thing,” said Alex. “Even so, the bar is set very high and it is not certain how many immigrant students would be able to take advantage of the legislation.”
That hasn’t deterred opponents from issuing “myths” designed to convince voters to reject the act. She cited these examples:
• MYTH: The Dream Act will be too expensive for Maryland.
FACT: In the 11 other states with a similar program, short term revenue losses were offset by increased student enrollment.
• MYTH: The MD Dream Act will displace U.S. citizen children from limited in-state tuition slots in our universities.
FACT: Eligible students will first have to enroll in a community college (which is open enrollment) and then transfer to a 4 year university for the final two years. They would not be competing for in-state slots with other Maryland students; their slots would come from the quota for out-of-state students.
• MYTH: The Dream Act will only help undocumented immigrant kids whose parents don’t pay taxes.
FACT: To be eligible, students and their parents will have to file Maryland state income taxes for three years prior to graduating from high school and throughout their college career. The act also would benefit those awaiting relief such as asylum applicants, as well as military families and veterans.
“We believe that once the public separates the facts from the “myths” they will vote yes in November and allow the Dream Act to go into effect early next year,” said Alex. “But we can’t do it alone and need help from as many organizations and groups as we can get.”
The New Harford Democratic Club vote unanimously to provide financial support to CASA de Maryland in their effort to promote a YES vote in November.
For additional information on CASA de Maryland, visit their website: www.casamd.org