Friday, March 07, 2014 5:08 AM
Published on: Thursday, November 08, 2012
By Chris Hinkel
ROCKVILLE - The Maryland DREAM Act passed yesterday with 58 percent of voters in favor of Question 4. That’s 1,388,857 votes for the referred law. Under this law, undocumented high school graduates in Maryland can qualify for in-state tuition rates at public two-year and four-year colleges; as long as they can prove that they or their parents have paid income taxes for three years and have earned 60 credits at a community college.
“All children will now be able to reach their potential because the people of our state have put a college education within their grasp,” said Governor Martin O’Malley at a victory party in Baltimore. “We have made college dreams a reality by passing the dream act.”
According to a recent study from the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, about 400 undocumented students will benefit from the law each year.
“With the Dream Act, Maryland now opens the doors to our outstanding educational institutions to the children of hard-working immigrants,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “By granting our fellow Marylanders access to quality education, we are preparing the state for years of progress and growth.”
Some voters were not pleased with the results, however. Mary Collins, 65, who voted against Question 4, believes that the DREAM Act might be detrimental to Maryland. “It’s targeting our state for illegal immigration,” she explained. “Other countries have stiff laws against illegals. We just open our doors.”
Kristen Ford, Communications Director of Educating Maryland Kids, explains that these assertions are not entirely true. “The Maryland DREAM Act doesn’t encourage illegal immigration,” said Kristen. “It merely makes sure the rules are the same for all Maryland tax payers.
Other voters believe that it is unfair to immigrants who have gone through strenuous processes to achieve their naturalization, and also to immigrants who have tried hard, yet failed to receive citizenship.
“They should have to go through a longer process, which people who have been here and come from other countries have had to do,” said Nancy Hopper, a retired Crownsville teacher.
For many, however, the DREAM Act is about the opportunities that the state will allow to the hard-working youth. Amnesty International USA Executive Director Suzanne Nossel expressed her thoughts on the law. “The securing of the Maryland DREAM Act is a victory for immigrant and human rights communities. It is clear that Maryland voters understand that it is right and fair that young undocumented immigrants whose families file taxes and who have been to Maryland high schools can fulfill their dream of going to college. These students will now have the opportunity to get a higher education and further contribute to our communities.”
Members of CASA de Maryland, an organization dedicated to the promotion of equal rights and opportunities for low income Latinos, are ecstatic to see their goals accomplished.
“This is a momentous victory for DREAMers here in Maryland who have done everything we’ve asked of them, excelling in school and contributing to their communities,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland. “Voters recognized the vital contributions talented young people, regardless of immigration status, are making to our state.”