MD DREAM Act

UPDATE: Thanks to your support, voters in the State of Maryland affirmed Question 4 in a ballot referendum that guarantees in-state tuition for aspiring young residents regardless of their immigration status. It is our fervent hope that this historic victory will build additional momentum for a comprehensive immigration reform under a second Obama administration. Please visit our Comprehensive Immigration Reform page and see what you can do to ensure that a humane immigration reform can and will happen.

Stand for Welcome: Support the Maryland DREAM Act

The Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum, also known as the DREAM Act Referendum will appear on the November 6 election as Question 4 on the 2012 general election statewide ballot questions.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) supports the DREAM Act and calls on all Lutherans in the state of Maryland to vote “for” Question 4 to stand for welcome and ensure equal access to higher education for our aspiring young citizens.

The Nov. 6 DREAM Act Referendum is an opportunity for Maryland voters to invest in promising young people by voting “for” on question four to support in-state college tuition for undocumented students.

LIRS has been partnering with CASA de Maryland and the Maryland Dream Youth Committee to raise awareness about the Nov. 6 Dream Act referendum and how the act can benefit Maryland. We have been speaking to Maryland voters at community events and Lutheran churches encouraging them to vote in support of immigrant youth and will continue to do so until the referendum in November.

What is the Maryland DREAM Act?

The Maryland “DREAM Act,” or in-state tuition law, seeks to provide undocumented students with the same opportunities for higher education as their native-born peers. It would give young people, who were brought to the United States at a young age, access to in-state tuition rather than having to pay out-of-state tuition as they currently do. These students have to have families who pay state income taxes, have attended a Maryland high school for at least three years, and complete at least 60 credits at a Maryland community college before enrolling at a four-year institution.

It is important to distinguish this state law from the federal DREAM Act legislation. The Maryland law does not attempt to change any immigration laws or grant any status changes. It solely addresses the need for more open and inclusive educational opportunities by allowing undocumented immigrants in the state to pay the normal in-state tuition. Therefore, it is very limited in scope and will only apply to under 200 residents of the state. Maryland is the 11th state to take on DREAM legislation in the face of Congressional stagnation on the issue.

Why does LIRS support it?

This law gets us one step closer to more fully supporting young people who are making strides to contribute to our economy and our nation. These students have years of public education already behind them. By providing them with the support to attend university we are promoting access to higher education while preparing more of Maryland’s young people to substantively contribute to the future of the state. The Maryland DREAM Act does not attempt to change any federal immigration laws, it simply acknowledges the many young undocumented residents denied of their right to higher education due to immigration status alone. This hurts the students as well as the state.

What is the referendum?

The state-wide referendum is a chance for voters to make the final decision to repeal or uphold this state law. Despite support for the Maryland DREAM Act from Governor Martin O’Malley, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan, opponents sought to undermine the decision as soon as it was passed. Opponents of the law gathered the required 55,736 signatures of state residents in a petition campaign organized by state delegate Neil C. Parrott who committed $5,000 of his own money to the petition drive. Although it was already passed into law by both state houses, this successful referendum campaign means that the law will again be at risk for repeal.

How can I learn more and get involved?

Educate youth and adults in your congregation to act on the Maryland DREAM Act Referendum:

Use the power of stories in sermons, speaking opportunities and youth group discussions.

Read about the October 6th march and rally to support the Maryland DREAM Act sponsored by CASA de Maryland.

Tell us how you are supporting the Maryland DREAM Act!

For additional support, resources, and to connect with the DREAM Coalition Network, please contact Folabi Olagbaju at lirsdreammd@gmail.com.