Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Supporters of the state’s Dream Act are making a call to action to voters. The measure will be on the November ballot, and as Gigi Barnett explains, opponents are rallying their backers, too.
Supporters of the Dream Act rallied on the State House steps to get lawmakers to back the measure that gives illegal immigrants in-state tuition.
Now, this week– less than 40 days before the November referendum– they’re going door-to-door.
“All they want is to pay in-state tuition,” Zeke Cohen, executive director of Intersection, said.
That’s the message members of the Intersection group want to send. Cohen runs the nonprofit that gets teens involved in community organizing. He says canvassing neighborhoods is a chance to meet voters and clear up myths.
“People think it’s a hand-out or it’s free tuition or it’s giving the children of undocumented workers some kind of advantage that other people don’t have when, in reality, it levels the playing field,” Cohen said.
Question 4 on the ballot gives in-state tuition to illegal students who graduated from Maryland high schools and whose parents have paid state taxes for five years.
“It’s not like we’re giving them anything. It’s what they’ve earned,” Taikira White, a Baltimore City student, said.
“At the root of this issue is it’s a taxpayer subsidy to folks who are here unlawfully,” Del. Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore and Harford counties) said.
McDonough voted against the Dream Act. He’s sending out sample ballots to voters asking them to mark “no” against the measure that he says could strip opportunities from U.S. students.
“It’s unfair to American citizens and you have a lot of people who want to get into college. They’re going to be displaced,” he said.
If voters approve the Dream Act in November, Maryland will be the thirteenth state in the nation to allow in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Education experts say right now nearly 400 illegal students could benefit from the Dream Act if it passes, but the state’s illegal immigrant population could quadruple within the next two years.