By: Folabi Olagbaju
By a wide margin, voters in the State of Maryland yesterday affirmed Question 4 in a ballot referendum that guarantees in-state tuition for aspiring young residents regardless of their immigration status. Known as the Maryland DREAM Act, the bill passed the Maryland Assembly in 2011, but opponents challenged the law by gathering enough signatures to call a referendum, claiming it would unjustly reward lawbreakers and that undocumented youths will take college slots away from citizens.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) joined a broad coalition of immigrant rights groups in Maryland to debunk these claims, create public awareness about the benefits of educating immigrant youth, and mobilize Lutherans to stand for welcome by voting FOR on Question 4.
As an immigrant to this great nation myself, I cannot be any more proud of LIRS’s efforts on this campaign and my fellow Marylanders who overwhelmingly voted for the DREAM Act on the referendum. Maryland now becomes the twelfth state in the country that allows in-state tuition for undocumented youths, and the first to do so through popular vote.
I strongly believe this vote affirms our hope in the contributions of immigrant youth and their right to equal access to education. It also sets a precedent for how immigrant rights will be discussed in this country moving forward. It is my fervent hope that this historic victory builds additional momentum for national immigration reform under a second Obama administration.
For more information on LIRS efforts on the DREAM Act, please visit http://blog.lirs.org/dream