Dream Act supporters and opponents make final push

At stake: In-state tuition for some undocumented

BALTIMORE - The question of whether to allow in-state tuition for the children of some undocumented immigrants has flown largely under the radar -- overshadowed by the same sex marriage issue and all the television ads for and against expanded gambling.

But you will see the so-called "Dream Act" on your ballot when you go to the polls in less than three weeks, as Question Four.

It's been more than a year since the General Assembly passed the Dream Act; it was signed into law by Governor O'Malley.

It would allow children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Maryland if the parents are paying taxes, if the child graduates from a Maryland high school and then completes two years of community college.

Opponents gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a statewide referendum; they say the Dream Act not only promotes illegal activity, it uses taxpayer money to do it.

"People understand the issue.  Everybody I talk to, they say 'We don't feel like taxpayers money should be used for illegal immigrants.' And it's very simple as far as they're concerned," said Del. Pat McDonough, a Republican who represents portions of Baltimore and Harford Counties.

A recent poll by Gonzales Research showed that 58% of registered voters in Maryland support the Dream Act, while 34% oppose it.

The same poll showed that three out of four Democrats support it -- a number Del. McDonough believes won't hold true on Election Day.

"When we did our petitions, half of the signers were Democrats, 50 percent," he said.

Both sides are making their final push, with the issue just three weeks away from being decided once and for all.

"For many families in Maryland paying out of state tuition is not doable.  So that would mean the difference between them being able to go to college or not being able to go to college," said Zeke Cohen of the group "The Intersection," which is advocating for The Dream Act.

City College Junior Taikira White has been working to support the measure, because she says it would help some of her friends.

"People will say that they're illegal or they don't belong here, and to us we feel like these are our friends; these are people we grew up with, these are people that we know and love and respect," she said.

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