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May 3, 2011

Internet stars in effort to repeal tuition breaks for illegal immigrants

Opponents of Maryland’s plan to offer in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants are optimistic that they can stop the measure in its tracks. (Read the full Sun story here.)

A Republican-led petition drive to repeal the bill approved last month by the Democrat-led General Assembly began in earnest last week and has been welcomed enthusiastically by voters across the state, organizers say.

Organizers say they have combined the traditional boots-on-the-ground with a sophisticated website,, to overcome the challenges of collecting so many signatures in such a short time. (Casa de Maryland's position in favor of the measure can be found here.)

"First, I want to thank Al Gore for inventing the Internet," said Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a key petition drive organizer. "It’s playing a major role, and we have already had a tremendous number of hits."

The site links with Maryland’s voter registration database to automatically fill in the correct name and address of a petition signer, who then may print out, sign and date the form and mail it to the organizers. The mailing address is provided on a printed page that can be folded into an envelope.

McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican, said the Internet also makes it easier for people to volunteer to circulate the petition because all of the materials can be printed out from the site, which also includes talking points. An example: "Many Marylanders cannot afford to send their own children to college, and yet this bill uses their tax dollars to pay for illegals to go to college."

Del. Neil C. Parrott, who is leading the repeal drive, said he conceived the idea for the site after meeting in February with the Board of Elections in preparation for a petition effort to overturn a same-sex marriage law that was expected to pass this year (It didn’t).

"I just wanted to make it easy and help people avoid pitfalls," said Parrott, a Washington County Republican.

He said he paid $2,000 of his own money to a web site development company, which he declined to identify. He is seeking donations to recover the cost. Parrott said the petition drive is “entirely grassroots” and has not tapped any national groups for support.

To succeed, they will have to collect 55,736 signatures — the equivalent of 3 percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election — by June 30. That would suspend the measure until November 2012, when voters would decide its fate in a referendum.

The first batch of more than 18,500 signatures is due by the end of this month.

"We’re off to a fantastic start," Parrott said. He would not say how many signatures have already been collected, but said he passed around the petition last week at a Washington Nationals baseball game and couldn’t believe how excited Marylanders were to sign on.

"You just start to explain the issue and a lot of people say, ‘Give me the form. I want to sign it right now.’"

Advocates for immigrants say they are taking a wait-and-see approach to the petition drive.

"Our strategy is to wait and get through the May deadline and see if they get anywhere close," said Kim Propeack, director of community organizing and political action for CASA de Maryland. She said it would be "a huge endeavor" to reach the signature requirement.

"We continue to believe that a majority of Marylanders support the bill, especially if it is accurately described," she said.

Noting that there are rules against committing fraud to obtain signatures, Propeack said Casa de Maryland has consulted with lawyers in case the petition is certified and the group decides to challenge it.

Maryland gives voters the opportunity to petition for the final say on most new laws. However, rules for petition drives are strict: Opponents have just a few months to gather tens of thousands of signatures, and to be counted, each must match or nearly match the exact name as it appears on the signer’s voter registration card.

The rejection rate is so high that the State Board of Elections recommends petitioners submit at least 30 percent more signatures than the required number, to account for those that will be deemed invalid.

Successful statewide petition efforts in Maryland are relatively rare.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 6:45 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Immigration


Please sign this bill. So sorry your state does not have a split legislature like we do in CO so that one side can not ram through things the other side does not like. Thats the only way we defeated in state this year though its going to come back as it has before.

No matter how you word it; it rewards those people who came here illegally and who are not contributing (and they arent no matter how you word it by saying they have to pay taxes) to the ability of your state and local govts to run.

If a legal resident from another state wants to move to MD for work or whatever; they have to wait to pay in state and they are here legally. Why? to make sure that they are paying their fair share including changing their licenses and car plates.

Please get on board and sign this petition. (help circulate it too)

I'm moving back to Maryland from Los Angeles, so please tell these students and their families to move out here. Los Angeles is over 50% latino, it has in-state tuition and every kind of program imaginable to make life easy for these students.
There is no humidity, no rain seven months of the year and almost no flying insects munching on you at night. Everyone speaks spanish. What's no to love!
Why would anyone leave this paradise? My taxes are much higher than Marylands, the infrastructure is falling apart, gangs are everywhere, illegal aliens are treated like citizens , the traffic is beyond belief, be prepared to spend 10-25 thousand a year per child for private school and in every election the tax takers will out vote the tax payers. If you like Tijuana, you'll love this place.
I wonder how L.A. got turned into a third world city?

What Maryland should be doing is passing some laws to get rid of all the illegal aliens. How many illegal aliens do you have there in Maryland? How much is it costing to keep the illegal aliens in Maryland? Are you keeping track of the anchor babies? How many of them did Maryland pay for?

Illegal immigration is a cancer, it has to be eradicated not tolerated.

You have to love how LAGuy is ridiculing people who speak Spanish, yet he can't write with proper English grammar. Too much.

Unrest you are partially correct. The bad grammar was enough to make my teachers gag, so next time I'll stick to doing one thing at a time.
I never ridiculed anyone because they speak spanish. I was pointing out that a foreign language is becoming dominant in a major American city, and I don't think that is a good thing.
While I look in some boxes for my copy of The Elements of Style, why don't you explain how the growing illegal alien population is a good thing for Maryland. It's done wonders for Los Angeles. Dazzle me.

Did I write It's instead of It has? Be gentle on me unrest.

No need to get excited. The citizens of Maryland will soon be paying for this, IN SPADES. Too bad the lessons of California are lost on the leaders of Maryland. You can lead a horse to water, etc etc etc.

I've never seen so many folks from Maryland unified against Annapolis, the elitists, and MOM. Voters from BOTH parties simply are NOT going to have this legislation crammed down their throats.

sign here:

In the absence of the Federal Government taking the lead by addressing the inherent flaws and weakness of the 14th Amendment, and by that actually solving the Illegal Immigrant problem, the several states are left to flounder and flail at smaller measures that will pick at the edges of the larger problem. This is such a measure.

Count me as one more signature on the petition.

Do NOT sign this piece of garbage!
They do pay their fare share of taxes etc.
Don't you guys have anything else to worry about? Why don't you set your sights on the screwball Tea Party?
Freud would have a field day with those idiots....Storm in a teacup?

I have no doubt the law-abiding citizens of MD will succeed via their petition. What needs to accompany this petition, however, are recall petitions for each and every legislator who voted to have our tax dollars pay for benefits to people who, had the legislators done their job, would have been back in their homelands years ago.

Purge the state of illegal aliens and return the state to one of law and order by purging the legislature of corrupt politicians who are bought and paid for by special interest groups such as CASA, LaRaza, and other radicals.

Still telling the Gore-internet lie, huh?

I will be mailing my form in tomorrow as soon as I take a gander at my voting card signature.

Jm fay....Tom Tancredo is one of my favorite people in Congress, he is a patriot and a true American who supports our country. We are not as liberal as the election results show, the Demcorat dominance is mainly due to gerrymandering and the overrepresentation of the DC suburbs which are heavily populated with northern transplants and illegal immigrants. There is also a Democratic contingent in Baltimore City, the kind that would worship in Jeremiah Wright's church.

I would agree that there should be a recall incorporated into the petition for every legislature that voted for this.

We are taxed too much as it is. What part of ILLEGAL is not understood? Repeal the bill allowing in state tuition for ILLEGAL residents in this country.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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