A Maryland ballot measure to allow in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants was expected to generate fierce debate this fall, but it has been somewhat lost in the frenzy over the state’s other referendums on same-sex marriage and expanded gambling.
The Maryland Dream Act, which would allow college-aged illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates under certain conditions, narrowly passed the General Assembly last year before becoming the state’s first law in 20 years to be petitioned to referendum by disapproving voters. Last year, petitioners collected 108,000 valid voter signatures — 40 percent of which came from Democrats and independents — nearly doubling the state’s requirement, in what appeared to foreshadow a tough battle over the law leading up to Election Day.
However, this year the issue has taken a back seat to the marriage and casino referendums. Recent polls also suggest that Marylanders are largely on board with the tuition proposal, which has benefited from an aggressive campaign led by influential Democrats, unions and religious leaders against a largely grass-roots and conservative resistance.