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Immigration Tuition Law Could Be Headed To Referendum

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s new law extending in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants could be headed to referendum. Leaders of the drive to put the issue on next year’s ballot say they are close to clearing the first hurdle.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the latest developments in this controversial case.

It’s been 20 years since anybody was able to get a state law up for referendum, but supporters of the petition drive say this is just the issue that could do that.

Voices raised during the 2011 legislative session convinced lawmakers to re-write rules and allow undocumented students to pay the same tuition rates as legal residents of the state.

“This will allow us to have a more highly educated workforce in our state, which is good for all of us,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said one person.

But supporters of a drive to put the issue on the ballot say it’s not right to extend in-state tuition to students who can’t prove they are legal residents of the state.

“It’s bad policy, it’s bad for legal citizens,” said another person.

Casa de Maryland is not focusing on the petition, but organizers for the referendum tell WJZ that they are close to getting the required signatures needed by May 31.

“We are very close to what we need for the first target and we would like to get 5,000 to 10,000 petition signatures this week which would more than guarantee we’re going to make it,” said one organizer.

More than 18,000 valid signatures must be presented to the state board of elections May 31 in order to move to phase 2.

A spokeswoman for Casa de Maryland would say only that it continues to believes the law is good and will be upheld.

A total of 55,736 valid signatures are needed by June 30 to put the immigrant tuition on the 2012 ballot.

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