On Election Day, the state of Maryland voted to enact it’s state version of the DREAM Act. FIfty-eight percent of Marylanders voted to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition when attending public colleges in the state. This Maryland law is similar to the Illinois DREAM Act passed here in 2011.
Though it shares a name with the federal DREAM Act which Congress failed to enact last session, the state law in Maryland does not confer immigration benefits to undocumented people, nor does it alter their legal status in the eyes of the federal government. Instead, the law make it possible for young people to become contributing members of society by affording them a path to higher education. The Maryland law also requires undocumented immigrants to declare their intention to apply for permanent residency as well as prove filing of income taxes and selective service registration.
There are now 11 states with some form of DREAM Act (though Maryland is the first state to pass such a measure by public vote) and it is clear that public opinion is turning in favor of sensible immigration reform. State laws can only do so much and what America’s undocumented immigrants need now is a way to become a legal, contributing member of society.