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Opposition to Dream Act overshadowed

Effort to block in-state tuition for illegal immigrants loses steam

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

Botwin said he's been making appearances on TV and radio, and is preparing a media blitz during the final weeks. His group is running 30-second ads on Maryland radio stations but he acknowledged that money is tight.

"We don't have the bucks of all of Annapolis behind us, so we do it in a grass-roots manner," he said. "We're low-budget. We get people to volunteer and do things for us."

Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican who played a leading role in gathering the more than 132,000 signatures that put the act on the ballot, said the enthusiasm that drove the petition campaign is still there. A recent rally at Commodore Hall in Middle River drew more than 200 people, he said.

"I don't care how much money they spend," he said. "I don't believe they're going to win on this issue."

Ford said her group knows that McDonough has held some events and that Help Save Maryland has run some ads. But apart from that, she hasn't seen much activity from those who oppose the law.

"I haven't seen Delegate Parrrott doing anything on the Dream Act," she said.

Parrott said Dream Act opponents are printing up voters guides recommending votes against the Dream Act and the congressional redistricting map; they will be distributed through the volunteers who gathered the petitions.

"You're not going to see the kind of large-scale money campaign that CASA of Maryland's going to have," he said. But he said mdpetitions.com plans to spend at least $10,000 opposing those ballot questions — along with same-sex marriage.

Largely through md.petitions.com's efforts, activists gathered nearly 105,000 validated signatures to challenge the Dream Act — about twice the required number.

David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the GOP is gearing up to fight the Dream Act and other ballot initiatives backed by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. He would not discuss the GOP's planned tactics but noted that the party's executive committee had voted to oppose the in-state tuition measure.

In the absence of a well-organized and adequately financed opposition, Reilly isn't optimistic about his side's chances.

"Referendums generally pass," he said.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

Ballot language for Question 4

Public Institutions of Higher Education — Tuition Rates

Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

Source: Maryland State Board of Elections

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