Reporting Pat Warren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Opponents of the Dream Act gathered last-minute signatures on a petition to put in-state tuition for undocumented students on the ballot next year. Political reporter Pat Warren has more on what’s ahead for both sides of the issue.
Those in favor of putting the Dream Act to the voters are confident they’ve met the 55,000 signature requirement for referendum. Thursday, there was a strong reaction from people who think putting it to a vote is the wrong thing to do.
It’s D-day for the Dream Act: a deadline and a defense. Opponents rush to meet the deadline for voters to petition the state to put in-state tuition for undocumented students on the ballot next year while a coalition of churches defends the dream.
“While politicians argue about our broken immigration system, the Dream Act gives hope to our young people in this state to move forward. We should not deny them,” said Bishop Angel Nunez, Bilingual Christian Church.
The Dream Act gives undocumented students the same tuition benefits that apply to legal residents of the state.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear that I have friends and family that can’t go to college just because of a nine digit number,” said Cindy Herrera.
But voters signing the petition stand by that nine digit Social Security number.
“I don’t think it’s fair for them to get a cheaper discount rate than someone who lives in Stewarts, Pennsylvania, to come down here and they gotta pay a bigger price to go to college,” said Wayne Gerbis.
Dream Act supporters say it’s not law or money, it’s opponents stirring up fear.
“If they want the people to vote, well, let the people vote, but don’t poison the water projecting and casting out venom and poison that give an image and provoke racism in our region. We will not accept that,” said one.
The Dream Act would have taken effect Friday but the petition drive has already delayed it until August. After the signatures are validated, it’ll stay on hold for the election.
The petitions will be delivered to the Secretary of State’s office in Annapolis Thursday night at 8.