Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Voters on the download. Organizers of a drive to put immigrant tuition on next year’s ballot say the Internet may put them over the top.
Political reporter Pat Warren reports Marylanders are still divided over letting undocumented students pay cheaper, in-state tuition rates.
Pleas by immigrant advocates persuaded the General Assembly this year to allow people who cannot prove citizenship to attend college at the same rates Maryland residents pay.
But opponents of the idea put a petition for referendum on a website, and they think it’s paying off.
“I don’t know the exact number, but it grows every day,” said Pat McDonough, Maryland House of Delegates. “It’s not a law. It’s not going backwards. It’s not slowing down. It’s getting bigger.”
Petition drives to put issues on the ballot generally fail in Maryland, but organizers believe this one is different.
“When we did early voting petitions people would say ‘Well, what’s wrong with early voting? That’s not a bad thing’ and others would say ‘Yeah, I don’t like that.’ But this is different. Nobody says ‘Illegals should get our money.’ Nobody says that,” one person said.
WJZ found varying opinions at the Baltimore County Community College in Essex when asked if the children of illegal immigrants should pay in-state tuition.
“They should,” said Hakeim Abukhdiar. “I mean, they’re here now. You can’t do anything about it. If you’re going to deport them, deport them. But how do you know they’re not going to come back? So what’s the difference?”
“If they’re not legal residents of Maryland, I would say I guess if someone has to pay out-of-state tuition they should pay out-of-state,” said Laura Ferandes.
“I don’t know,” said Deborah Smith. “Everybody should have a chance to be educated.”
The first batch of signatures is due at the end of this month. More than 18,000 signatures are required in that first batch to keep the drive going.