While Democrats in the Senate are still getting their efforts together at passing the DREAM Act -- which just barely fell short of passage in January, despite a relentless campaign of remorseless lying waged by Republicans -- legislators in Maryland have shown them how it's done -- simply get it passed, and watch the nativist Republicans reveal themselves as the hollow, lying hatemongers they are in the process. From Jackie at Change.org:
After years of dogged organizing by local DREAM Act networks and CASA de Maryland-- and thousands of actions from Change.org members -- Maryland has finally passed an historic in-state tuition bill that was nine years in the making.
Still, the last few hours of the MD DREAM Act battle were as unpredictable and as they were tense. On Friday, the Maryland House joined the Senate in voting to approve the "Maryland DREAM Act" by a margin of 74-66. The measure was poised to clear a procedural vote in the Maryland Senate on Monday afternoon, when the proceedings took an unexpected U-turn. Maryland State Senators did not approve the amendments directly, but rather sent the bill back to a conference committee and on to face yet another vote in both chambers -- before the midnight deadline!
Amidst growing uncertainty, DREAM Act advocates at CASA de Maryland quickly called on the Change.org community to send messages to their Maryland representatives -- and hundreds of individuals took action immediately. Sparing no drama, the MD Senate approved the measure just a few short hours before the midnight deadline, 27 to 19, and the final House vote was a closer 74-65, according to initial tallies. As the last of the votes came in and the verdict became clear, the undocumented youth and community leaders who had gathered to watch the vote burst into cheers of joy. They hurried over to thank the delegates.
The bill was signed into law May 10. And the response from the Right was just as predictable: they've mounted an effort to get a repeal initiative onto the ballot:
Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican who is helping lead the drive, estimated Tuesday that organizers are “very close” to reaching the May 31 goal and expect to exceed the requirement in the next two weeks.
“I think they’re celebrating too soon,” he said of the bill’s supporters. “They shouldn’t be popping the champagne corks just yet.”
But the opponents' claims simply don't hold water. In order to argue against enacting this measure -- which really is a basic matter of common sense, decency and fair play -- they have to basically lie and make stuff up, as Ben Ferguson did on Fox News the other morning in attacking it, with Simon Rosenberg adroitly defending it.
The measure is a tough, fair and sensible way to help make college affordable for students who grew up in Maryland but, often through no fault of their own, lack legal status in this country. Beyond helping them, it would help Maryland by providing credentials to talented young people who would be prepared to contribute to the state’s economy.
But the legislation, signed into law this week by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, is under attack by anti-illegal-immigrant activists. Brandishing slogans about respect for the law and the misuse of public funds, the activists want to make life so impossible for undocumented immigrants that they will somehow be forced to go “home.” Never mind that Maryland is the only home that many of these students, thoroughly American in speech, habits, culture and allegiance, know or remember.
The activists have launched a petition drive to block the law from taking effect this year by collecting about 58,000 valid signatures to put it on the ballot in 2012.
The bottom line for Mr. McDonough, as for many Republicans, is that illegal immigrants can and should be made to leave the country, and that federal, state and local governments can hasten that process by taking legislative and administrative steps that make life impossible for them.
This is fantasy, of course. Eleven million undocumented immigrants are in America, 7 million of them in the workforce; many have been here a long time and are deeply interwoven in the fabric of their communities. The idea that they can somehow be made to disappear — “attrited,” in Mr. McDonough’s euphemism — is a daydream. It won’t fly with businesses, industries and citizens that need and have come to rely on undocumented workers and residents.
In following at least 10 other states in enacting some version of the Dream Act, Maryland opened a door to youngsters who hope for a better future, like generations of immigrants before them. If that door is slammed, Maryland will shortchange its own future by blocking those residents from fulfilling their potential.
There's a reasonable chance that the effort to pass the bill in the Senate this year could succeed -- if the Democrats like Jon Tester can be made to see the light. Of course, the teabaggers running the House will never let it pass there -- but getting it done in the Senate will be an important step in advancing this simple, common-sense measure.