Voters Set Precedent by Approving Maryland Dream Act

By Catherine Groux
Posted November 08, 2012 11:00 AM

Maryland made history by approving its Dream Act.
Maryland made history by approving its Dream Act.
Tuesday night, Maryland became the 13th U.S. state to pass a law granting undocumented students access to in-state tuition at public colleges when it approved the Dream Act, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Setting a precedent in the national debate over immigration, Maryland's version of the Dream Act allows select undocumented immigrants to pay public, in-state tuition rates if they attend state high schools for at least three years and meet a variety of other qualifications. While several states have upheld similar laws, Maryland's Dream Act is the first to be approved through popular vote, The Washington Post states.

Governor Martin O'Malley signed the legislation in May, but a petition by opponents forced it to come down to a ballot vote. Appearing as Question 4, the Maryland Dream Act won 59% of the vote.

"The more that we do to make the dream of a college education a real opportunity for every child in Maryland, the stronger that makes Maryland," O'Malley said last night during a speech in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore.

University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told the Post that he also supports the law, despite the fact that he estimates only 20 students per year will benefit from the state's Dream Act on the university's College Park campus.

"Yes, they are undocumented, but we're talking about people who came here as children," Loh said.

Despite support for the law, the Dream Act was met with a fair amount of controversy in the state. Opponents argue that the Dream Act will cost the state millions of dollars and will take classroom space away from legal citizens. Still, Maryland State Delegate Neil C. Parrott, a leading opponent of the law, told The Gazette that opponents saw a "big victory" in simply getting to vote on the issue.

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