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Maryland DREAM Act Wins Big

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The Maryland DREAM Act won broad support in a state referendum this week, which means that Maryland DREAMers will continue to benefit from increased access to higher education in the state.  Thanks to voters in Maryland, the immigrant rights movement took another step forward at the ballot box.

According to In These Times:

In Maryland, voters passed the Maryland Dream Act, which will grant in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who have graduated from state high schools and fulfilled other requirements. Maryland joins 13 other states in providing some form of tuition parity to undocumented students, but the first to pass this measure by popular vote. With 96% of precincts reporting this morning, an unofficial tally had 58.3 percent supporting the measure and 41.7 percent opposing.

“This means so much to me, my parents and my family — who are the other dreamers,” Nathaly Uribe, a high school senior who arrived from Chile at the age of two told the Baltimore Sun. “This will give all of us a chance.”

Anti-immigrant folks in Maryland tried to squash adoption of the legislation after the bill was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2011. They collected over 100,000 signatures needed to put it to popular vote – but advocates in Maryland were able to shut them down. Pushing back against the anti-immigrant extremists was a massive movement led by groups such as Educating Maryland Kids, who organized Marylanders to Vote FOR the Maryland DREAM Act (vote FOR Question 4).

The move is just more evidence that the vast majority of Americans reject anti-immigrant sentiments and support measures that recognize the contributions immigrants have made to the United States.  The Baltimore Sun sums it up pretty well:

This was the year of the referendum in Maryland, and given how things went at the polls, we’re not likely to see a repeat any time soon. The success of all the three laws that were petitioned to referendum exposes the fallacy of Maryland Republicans’ notion that they could build support for themselves and check the supposed excesses of the Democratic Party by bringing controversial measures to the voters.

Tomorrow at 11 AM Eastern, America’s Voice will be hosting a call with national and state leaders, who will discuss the national implications of the state DREAM Act victory and the lessons Washington can learn from the leaders and voters of Maryland. We’ll be live-tweeting and posting a wrap-up on the blog after the call —

More on that tomorrow!