An activist group working to protect a new Maryland law granting illegal immigrants taxpayer-funded tuition benefits has plans to launch a multi-million-dollar fundraising campaign to help defend the measure from a ballot-referendum challenge.
Known as the Maryland DREAM Act, the law was enacted by the state’s General Assembly in April and signed by Governor Martin O’Malley weeks later. Essentially, it creates a new taxpayer-subsidized benefit — the ability to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions—for certain eligible illegal aliens.
A news report quotes the Department of Legislative Services, the research arm for the Maryland State Legislature, estimating that the DREAM Act could cost Maryland taxpayers $778,000 in fiscal year 2014 and up to $3.5 million in fiscal 2016 to subsidize the tuition rate undocumented students will receive.
To give voters a chance to eliminate this costly benefit for illegal aliens, a group (MDPetitions.com) led by Maryland Assembly Delegate Neil Parrott launched a highly successful petition campaign to put the issue to a vote. Almost twice the number of signatures (130,000) required for a referendum to appear on the November 2012 ballot were collected throughout the state.
In an effort to protect the public subsidies for illegal immigrants’ college tuition, a renowned open borders group, Casa de Maryland, went to court and tried to throw out tens of thousands of valid signatures. Judicial Watch represents MDPetitions.com, which simply wants to give citizens the chance to be heard on this important issue. Illegal immigrant lobbyists, like Casa de Maryland, want voters to have no direct say on the issue, even though their money will finance this new measure.
Earlier this month Casa de Maryland conceded that MDPetitions.com did in fact collect more than enough signatures, announcing that it will no longer challenge the “sufficiency and number of the petition signatures” gathered to place the repeal of the illegal alien tuition benefits policy on the November, 2012 Maryland ballot. However, the group continues to maintain that the Maryland DREAM Act cannot legally be subject to referendum.
But as MDPetitions.com argues in its court filings, Maryland voters are merely exercising their rights under Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution, which unambiguously states: “The people reserve to themselves power known as The Referendum, by petition to have submitted to the registered voters of the State, to approve or reject at the polls, any Act, or part of any Act of the General Assembly, if approved by the Governor, or, if passed by the General Assembly over the veto of the Governor.”
Casa has seemed to concede that its political lawsuit to derail the ballot measure will fail. So the group is hiring a fundraising manager to lead a new $10 million campaign to “raise dollars from individuals, unions, and corporations” to “defend the Maryland DREAM Act.” The job description states that the new law is being “challenged through a ballot referendum challenge in the November 2012 elections.” The campaign fundraising manager job is described as a temporary position for an initiative called “Educating Maryland Kids.”
Of interesting note is that the assistant attorney general picked by President Obama to head the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) bloated civil rights division, former Maryland Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, served as president of the board of Casa de Maryland. The group is based in the state’s Tacoma Park area and proudly advertises its day laborer centers—in Baltimore, Wheaton and Silver Spring—which are all partially funded with public money from counties and cities.
A few years ago Casa de Maryland received a $1.5 million donation from Venezuela’s ardent anti-U.S. leader, socialist Hugo Chavez, who is a close ally of State Department terrorist nations like Iran, North Korea and Cuba. The Chavez-controlled Citgo Petroleum Corp. made the donation to support illegal aliens in the U.S. and the connection between the South American strongman and a top DOJ appointee is more than unsettling.
In a related matter, JW filed a taxpayer lawsuit early this year—before the DREAM Act passed—against the Board of Trustees of Maryland’s Montgomery College for unlawfully charging discounted “in county” tuition rates to students who graduate from public high schools in the county, regardless of their place of residency or immigration status.