Court Allows Vote on Maryland Dream Act

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The Dream Act now moves on to voters to decide in a referendum set for this fall whether or not it will stay law. Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals, made the decision on Thursday, according to NBC 4.

The state law was designed to enable illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition for Maryland colleges and universities and passed a year ago.

Here's a look at the latest details regarding the Dream Act.

Historic court decision: This marks the first referendum to be put on on the state ballot in 20 years. The decision upholds a decision made in February by the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to allow the matter to go to the ballots.

The Frederick News-Post said that a Washington-based lawyer named Joseph Sandler had challenged the proposed referendum in court and now plans to support Educating Maryland Kids, an advocacy group for the Dream Act.

Supported by Maryland administration: When the law passed in April, 2011, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown issued a press release posted on the Governor's website congratulating the House of Delegates for its passage. "Allowing children of undocumented immigrants who have attended and graduated from Maryland high schools to access an affordable college education will help them give back, both in taxes from higher paying jobs and through service to their community," he said at the time.

Governor Martin O'Malley was said by NBC 4 to be planning to build a campaign to convince voters to keep the law on the books.

Opposition plans to mount campaign: On the opposite side of the fence, Delegate Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington) celebrated the court decision. He told the Washington Post, "this is a great victory for all Maryland voters. Using tax money to pay college tuition costs for illegal aliens doesn't make sense."

Parrott started MDPetitions.com through which he hoped to gain enough signatures to put the law on the ballot. He made the point that Republicans, Democrats and Independents all signed the petition.

Advocacy group has many supporters: Educating Maryland Kids can be expected to be part of the canvassing effort to bring voters to the polls in favor of upholding the law. Among the coalition members are the Baltimore City Council, Montgomery and Prince George's County, the Maryland State Board of Education, and numerous colleges, schools, and organizations, many in Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's County.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington, D.C., in Gaithersburg, Md.

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