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‘Dream Act’ Supporters Amass Final Ballot Push

As advocates boost their million-dollar ad campaign, more than 800 faith leaders will rally Tuesday in Silver Spring to spur more voter outreach ahead of Election Day.

With Election Day just two weeks away, "Dream Act" advocates have stepped up their million-dollar ad campaign and are convening a pair of rallies this week, one of which is expected to draw more than 800 faith-based activists to Silver Spring today.

Signed into law after narrowly clearing the 2011 legislative session, the Dream Act would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they:

  • Graduated from a state high school after attending at least three years
  • Prove that they or their parents pay state taxes
  • Apply for permanent U.S. residency and for the U.S. Selective Service

A Republican-led petition drive , more than twice what was required to send it to referendum. If it survives the Nov. 6 vote, Maryland voters will be the first in the nation to approve in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Dream Act opponents say that the collection of so many signatures in less than two months sends a message on how much opposition there is, and renders any would-be challenges to the signature count moot.

“The numbers are just too overwhelming,” Sue Payne, an organizer for Rally for America, said earlier.

Advocates have had to clamor for attention in the most crowded ballot in state history, which includes questions on same-sex marriage, congressional redistricting and the expansion of Maryland’s casino industry.

Educating Maryland Kids—a coalition of labor groups, educators, faith-based organizations and immigrant advocates—has ramped up its campaign in support of the Dream Act over the past two months.

Recent polls show strong support among likely voters: 61 percent according to Mellman Group, 58 percent according to Gonzales Research and 60 percent according to Garin-Hart-Yang. The single in-depth analysis of the Dream Act’s economic impact claims it will bring a long-term net gain of more than $60 million.

Buoyed by those successes, Educating Maryland Kids started its final push last week with three TV ads—one of which features Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown—arguing that “It’s right and it’s fair” for qualifying undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. The coalition also expanded its radio buy in Baltimore from two stations to five. In all, the media campaign is expected to top out above $1 million by Election Day.

On the grassroots side, Dream Act supporters are also mobilizing their network of students and faith-based groups to educate voters and encourage early voting.

On Tuesday, more than 800 religious leaders from across the state were convening in Silver Spring. On Thursday, high school students and elected officials were scheduled to rally at the University of Maryland-College Park, where the guest speakers will include U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and state Dels. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Heather Mizeur and Ana Sol Guiterrez.

Tuesday’s summit is expected to draw a diverse turnout to the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring—Jews, Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Evangelicals and Muslims, according to a statement.

The summit is being organized by the Maryland Industrial Areas Foundation, a coalition of Action in Montgomery, BUILD in Baltimore and PATH in Howard County, which together represent 85 congregations, schools and neighborhood organizations.

“Every day I meet kids in my congregation who are DREAMers,” Bishop Darlingston Johnson of Bethel World Outreach Ministries in Silver Spring said in a statement.

Brittany Marie October 23, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If these individuals are paying taxes and applying for citizenship (as well as the U.S. Selective service) I do not see an issue with them paying in-state tuition. It's not like they automatically get to go to school free. They have to pay like everyone else.
jag October 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Amen. The alternative of putting roadblocks up to increasing the chance these kids will be a burden on the state's coffers makes no sense. The kids want to learn and contribute to our society. LET THEM. Quit trying to force them into the underclass. This scare tactic crap about how they'll "take my kid's seat" is bogus. These DREAM kids would compete with out of state applicants. Another scare tactic about how this bill will encourage illegal immigrants to come to this state is also completely bogus. A dozen other states already have a bill like this in place and they've seen no increase in illegal immigration as a result. There is literally no downside to this bill.
Shaka Zulu October 23, 2012 at 03:42 PM
We should pass this Law as soon as Mexico does the same, and El Salvador, and the rest of the central americas'. the problem is we keep giving and giving and nothing is getting better, we already pay from criminals to go to school AGAIN on the public dollar while they are in our jails, then if the yare in long enough we pay for them to take college courses too, but we the tax payers can't afford to send our own children to college thanks to the high taxes we pay for the ones who put nothing in.
s October 23, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Well, I support the dream act but I really doubt the cooperation between this advocacy group and the LGBT community. I bet if the LGBT community supports this movement the support will not be returned. I guess we will see on Election Day for question #6. But, it feels to me similar the LGBT support of Obama in 2008 which was followed by PG county African American church leaders railroading the 2010 gay marriage state bill in Annapolis. In fact they are the reason it’s not law now and is on the ballot in November. So, as a gay man I’m tired of being stabbed in the back by other minority advocacy groups. I’ll see what happens in November.
Cynthia Newcomer October 23, 2012 at 07:50 PM
How about the fact that US trade policies had a big impact on the devastation of Latin American economies? Might that be a reason that people from Mexico, El Salvador and other countries go through the sadness of leaving their families, the drain of paying their way to get here, and the serious danger of crossing the border? And regarding how "we the taxpayers can't afford to send our own children to college", first the students this bill is intended to support come from US taxpaying families. Second, there is plenty of money to send everyone to college if the US would get our national priorities right. But we'd rather fight wars than educate our children, citizens or undocumented.
jnrentz1 October 24, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Scot Brown: Good comment. For what it is worth, I voted early, voting for Gay Marriage, and against the Dream Act.
Cynthia Newcomer October 24, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I just found information on the CASA de Maryland site that is pro gay marriage http://www.casademaryland.org/familia-es-familia so I'm not sure what you mean that the support won't be returned. I don't think that (predominantly white) gay groups are so great at supporting issues of concern to people of color, immigrants, poor people, etc. despite the fact that there are plenty of people of color, immigrants and poor people who are LGBT. Rather than work to support a broader progressive agenda that will benefit so many people, the major national LGBT groups have chosen to focus on a narrow agenda such as marriage and Don't Ask Don't Tell. I'd love to see gay groups fighting for universal single payer health care, jobs programs, comprehensive immigration reform, which would benefit LGBT people and many others. This can be in additiion to a more narrow "gay agenda." Also, there is this ongoing narrative that it is because of African Americans and Latinos that gay initiatives are losing in state legislatures and at the ballot box. But there are plenty of white people and predominantly white churches and organizations that oppose gay rights. That argument just doesn't hold up.
s October 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Cynthia it's a well documented fact that the 2010 gay marriage bill as defeated in Annapolis because of African American church leaders in PG County. Look up the votes on record. The law was going to pass but church leaders in district 24 and 25 pressured their reps the week before the vote and the reps changed their position. That is reality. And that holds water. I worked for 6 months at the grassroots level in PG County on the 2010 bill and to be stabbed in the back makes me want to vote for Romney. We will see soon enough how people vote on question 6. In my opinion the support will not be reciprocated by the voting public. That’s an opinion, not a fact.
Cynthia Newcomer October 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Scot, I think change happens through long-term, challenging coalition-building, including support of each other's issues. With relationships formed through that kind of hard work, where you have each other's backs, there is less likelihood of last minute changes that doom legislation. I just haven't seen white gay groups engaged in that kind of long-term work. My experience has mainly been on the national level; maybe you are doing that work in PG County and I'm not aware. Another thing I've seen often is white gay groups comparing our issues to African American civil rights struggles, without doing work on racism within the white gay community. For example, in the marriage debate I've seen lots of white people talking about how this is comparable to the end of the ban on interracial marriage. I've also seen predominantly white groups (when I used to work on the state level on reproductive rights) assume the support of certain African American legislators without really talking with them or involving them in the legislative strategy. These are just some examples of behavior I believe harms our relationships with people of color organizations/legislators. I don't understand your connection between being "stabbed in the back" on the marriage issue in Prince George's County and voting for Romney. Is there some relationship between the presidential election and the PG votes on gay marriage that I'm missing? And how do you think a Romney presidency will advance gay rights?
s October 25, 2012 at 05:51 PM
We will see who supports question 6 soon enough. And you are right; there is no lack of discrimination. But, to get back to the point at hand, I'm doubtful African Americans and Hispanics will support gay equal rights which, I find hypocritical. I only speak for myself. Rev. Al Sharpton supported gay marriage on 9/21/12. I doubt that will translate into votes supporting question 6. I hope I am wrong.
Cynthia Newcomer October 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Yup, we will see soon enough. And regarding the point at hand, my point is that if we don't see support in the African and Latino communities, some of it is our own fault. But typically the communities who didn't vote the way we wanted them to get blamed. We need to be looking a lot more closely at what we need to do to win those votes.
Cynthia Newcomer November 07, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Just an update on this! So glad Dream Act and same sex marriage passed. And I found some numbers that are interesting given the convo Scot and I have been having. Latinos and African Americans are more likely to support same-sex marriage than the general population: 55% of Latinos (according to a March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll) and 59% of African Americans (according to a May Washington Post/ABC poll) support freedom to marry. I haven't seen stats yet for Maryland question 6, but I think we have to put those myths to rest that Latinos and African Americans oppose gay marriage and are responsible when that issue loses at the ballot box.

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