Dream Act advocates plan push in congregations

October 05, 2012|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

Advocates of the Dream Act, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants to take advantage of the in-state tuition paid by other Maryland residents at state universities, are planning a big push in congregations in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

The Maryland Industrial Areas Foundation announced plans Friday to hold Dream Sundays this weekend and next at churches in Baltimore city and Howard and Montgomery counties. Alisa Glassman, an organizer for the group, said the foundation has trained 540 clergy and lay people to act as advocates for the measure, which must pass in a referendum Nov. 6 to become law.

The measure was put on the ballot last year when opponents gathered more than 104,000 signatures -- roughly twice the number needed -- to challenge the bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The Dream Act has strong support across a broad spectrum of religious denominations, however. Unlike the ballot question that would allow same-sex marriage, it has been getting vocal backing from Catholic groups. Meanwhile, many African-American bishops and pastors have lined up behind the legislation, which would allow in-state tuition for students who complete three years in a Maryland high school and whose families can show they've paid taxes.

Glassman said that on Oct. 23, about 800 bishops, clergy and elected officials will hold a Dream Assembly in Burtonsville, Montgomery County. She said the event will include clergy from both the Baltimore and Washington area.

The effort by the Maryland IAF, a coalition of schools, churches and neighborhoods groups, is separate from the ad campaign being run by the ballot committee Educating Maryland's Kids, Glassman said.

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