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Lawsuit Filed To Allow Illegal Immigrant Tuition

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Supporters of the Dream Act filed suit to cancel the 2012 ballot referendum.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains they believe the State Board of Elections wrongly certified petitions to put in-state tuition for undocumented students on the November ballot.

These petitions for referendum had to be signed just so in order to count toward the number needed to put in-state tuition for undocumented students on the 2012 election ballot.  Supporters of the Maryland Dream Act are now suing the State Board of Elections, claiming it certified signatures that should have been thrown out. 

“The petition sponsors are actually thousands of signatures short of what they need to put this law on the ballot,” said attorney Joe Sandler.

Sandler represents Casa de Maryland and students like Ricky.

“It’s very frustrating thinking that I won’t be able to school in case this gets blocked.  It’s very sad,” Ricky said.  “I feel sorry for me.  I feel sorry for friends.”

This effort to stop the referendum is not unexpected.

Petition sponsor Pat McDonough believes the challenge includes use of the Internet to access forms.

“And it wasn’t the Internet, it was the passion and the outrage of the people who were coming out of the woodwork to sign these petitions,” McDonough said.

The lawsuit also claims that the Dream Act should be immune from referendum because it funds a state program and funding cannot be challenged by ballot.

“There is not sufficient basis under Maryland law to prevent this law from going into effect and disrupt the plans, hopes and dreams of the students it’s supposed to benefit,” Sandler said.

But as a lawmaker, McDonough says the Dream Act is a change in policy, not a budget item.

“People were paying attention.  It was very important to them, so they crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s,” McDonough said.

Regardless of how the court rules, each side could appeal, which still leaves the Dream Act in limbo.

The Office of the Attorney General will represent the Board of Elections in the lawsuit.  That office had no comment on the suit Monday.

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