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Maryland Court Affirms Tuition Ballot Question

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Marylanders can vote on whether to allow undocumented students to attend college at in-state tuition rates.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports just one day after hearing arguments, the state’s highest court rules against efforts to stop the referendum.

Controversy surrounds the so-called Dream Act, signed into law last year by Governor Martin O’Malley and challenged by thousands of Marylanders who signed a petition to put it on the November ballot. Casa de Maryland, an immigrant support group, went to court in August to have the petition thrown out.

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

But the Maryland Court of Appeals disagrees and Wednesday ruled that the issue will be on the November ballot. Delegate Neil Parrott, an organizer of the drive, says the legality of the petition should never have been a question but this is just the first hurdle Dream Act opponents have to clear.

“It’s going to be a big election and I know their side is already raising a lot of money and so we’re going to need to make sure that we have money on our side in an effort to make sure that the truth is being told,” said Parrott.

The law would allow undocumented students to attend college at the cheaper rate offered to legal Maryland residents.

“The hopes and the dreams and the plans of these young people have been disrupted,” Sandler said.

In a statement Wednesday, Casa de Maryland attorney Joe Sandler tells WJZ, “While we are disappointed in the court’s decision, Marylanders who support the Dream Act are confident that the law will win the approval of the voters. It makes sense that those parents who pay taxes deserve to have their kids pay in-state tuition.”

The battle is now at the ballot box.

“Once people understand exactly what the bill says, it’s pretty obvious just with their common sense, they’re going to vote against using our tax money to give to illegal aliens,” said Parrott.

Nearly 109,000 Marylanders signed the petition to put the Dream Act to a vote.

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