Battle For The Dream Act Gets Heated

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s one of the most controversial issues in Maryland. Now opponents of the Dream Act fire the latest shot in the battle.

Political Reporter Pat Warren has the latest on this heated controversy.

Organizers of the petition drive to put in-state tuition for undocumented students on the November ballot in next year’s election say a lawsuit filed on behalf of Casa de Maryland should not be allowed to derail the referendum.

While thousands of Marylanders sign on to put tuition breaks for illegal immigrants to a vote…

“I can’t see why we should be supporting them when we’re having such financial difficulties anyways,” said one Maryland resident.

“The law’s the law,” agreed another.

Supporters of the Dream Act go to court to stop it from appearing on the ballot.

“This is not the type of law that that can be referred to a referendum because it provides funding for a state program,” said Joe Sandler, Casa de Maryland attorney.

Casa de Maryland is asking a judge to declare the petition invalid claiming the Dream Act is immune from referendum because voters don’t get to override state funding.

It’s a similar argument before the same judge who ruled against a slots referendum in Anne Arundel County. That slots ruling was overturned and the question went on the ballot, but there’s been no written opinion from the Court of Appeals.

Dream Act opponents consider that a foul on the play.

“Because of both of these things this lawsuit must stand still until there’s a new judge and a written opinion,” said Maryland Del. Pat McDonough.

Casa de Maryland tells WJZ, attacking a judge may be an easy way for a politician to get his name in the paper, but most Americans prefer that their legislators dedicate their time to resolving the critical issues facing our communities.

On the campus of Baltimore County Community College, WJZ found students largely in favor of the Dream Act.

“I’m completely in support of anyone being able to come as long as they’re a resident having in-state tuition,” said Megan Flanigan, a student at Baltimore County Community College.

But opponents are confident that there are enough votes out there to kill the whole thing, if given a chance.

“This case cannot move forward as long as the opinion on petitions does not come out of the Court of Appeals,” Del. McDonough said. “It’s like saying we want to go play a football game today and we want to play without the football. It won’t work.”

The Maryland Attorney General is defending the State Board of Elections against the lawsuit and a spokesperson for that office says it will wait on the court’s good time to get that written opinion.

Unless the petitions are thrown out by the courts, the Dream Act will appear on the November 2012 ballot.

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