Undocumented students may soon be able to pay in-state tuition in Maryland, with a new Washington Post poll showing 59 percent of likely voters there support a law that would allow them to do so, while only 35 percent oppose it.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signed a law in May 2011 allowing young undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition if they attended high school in the state for at least three years and a parent or guardian had been paying taxes. The law was temporarily blocked in July when opponents raised enough signatures to force a referendum from Marylanders on whether it should go forward.
The Post poll found voters' views on the Maryland Dream Act broke down along party lines: A strong majority of Republicans oppose the law, while most Democrats and Independents support it.
If it is allowed to go into effect, it would have a big impact on undocumented students, who even if they grew up in Maryland currently have to pay far steeper out-of-state rates.
Undocumented immigrants in most states must pay out-of-state tuition, but 13 other states allow in-state tuition in laws similar to the Maryland Dream Act.
The laws are named for the national Dream Act, which would allow a pathway to legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The state laws do not grant any legal status.
Opponents of the law say it would be too expensive for the state, the Washington Post reported in July.
"This is a great benefit to every citizen of the state," said state Delegate Neil C. Parrott, a Republican who led the petition for a referendum on the law. "The liberal leadership of the General Assembly rammed this through, even with 20 Democrats voting against it. It’s taken the hard work of volunteers across the state to make sure voters will have the final say."