On Ballot In Maryland, 'Dream Act' Wins Big On Election Night

Nov 7, 2012
Originally published on November 7, 2012 6:02 am

The Maryland Dream Act, which allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, will stand.

With a 58 to 42 split, voters rejected a measure that sought to overturn legislation passed by lawmakers last year.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

"The measure is expected to affect about 435 students in each entering class. When it was originally passed in March it was predicted to cost the state $3.5 million by 2016, an analysis by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research, which anticipates an overall positive economic impact because the students helped by the Dream Act are likely to earn more money and therefore pay more in taxes.

"'This is a wise investment,' said Kristin Ford, communications director for Educating Maryland Kids. 'It's not just good for kids, but it's also good from an economic standpoint.'

"Ford said the key to the campaign was educating voters. Once people understood the measure, she said, they tended to support it, but it was important to emphasize that it wasn't a handout or a special scholarship."

A national version of the Dream Act has enjoyed popular support, according to polls, but it's become a deeply divided political issue. So much so that President Obama bypassed Congress and used an executive order earlier this year to call off the deportation of young illegal immigrants.

Many credit that move with helping Obama win a huge part of the Hispanic vote. Exit polls showed that the president enjoyed a 40-point lead with Latino voters.

Another notable number from the exit polls: Sixty-five percent of Americans polled said "illegal immigrants working in the United States [should] be offered a chance for legal status." Only 28 percent said they should be deported.

This is an important issue that you'll be hearing about for some time to come, especially as it relates to the future of the GOP.

If you remember, during the Republican primaries Mitt Romney was forced to take harsh position on immigration. His call for "self deportation" haunted him during a "meet the candidate" event sponsored by the Spanish-language network Univision.

Another thing to keep in mind: Latinos are the fastest-growing voter group in the country. Yesterday, they made up 10 percent of voters, so for the GOP, it gets harder and harder to win national elections without moderating that Latino gap. The big question then becomes whether Republicans will moderate their views on issues like the Dream Act and immigration.

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