Today, dozens of students, teachers, faith leaders and members of civil rights and community organizations and labor unions joined prominent university president Freeman Hrabowski, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore for the launch of Educating Maryland Kids, the coalition working to protect the Maryland DREAM Act.
“I know the power of education to transform lives. Moreover, I know the power of telling a child that, ‘Yes, we want you to get the best education possible,’” said Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County). “Supporting our children is the American way and the right thing to do for many reasons. Most important, perhaps, it leads to a stronger and more prosperous America.”
Educating Maryland Kids is comprised of faith-based, education, civil rights, and labor organizations including SEIU, the Maryland State Education Association, Maryland IAF, Maryland Catholic Conference, NAACP, and CASA de Maryland. The coalition is focusing on educating voters about the law, which ensures that Maryland students whose families pay Maryland taxes and who graduated from Maryland high schools can pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status. The Maryland DREAM Act faces a ballot referendum this November.
“Our support for the DREAM act is woven into the fabric of our history as both Catholics and Americans,” said Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, who invoked the moral and religious imperative to support the Maryland DREAM Act.
“The Catholic Church in this country today stands proudly on the shoulders of immigrants who built our churches, built our schools, hospitals, and so many other institutions,” said Bishop Madden. “From the very beginning, we have understood the fundamental value of education, and we have always opened our doors to providing all children the best educational opportunity possible. In fact, some of our nation’s earliest Catholic schools were founded right here in Baltimore to serve African American children at a time when it was illegal to do so in many places.”
Karina, a DREAM student from Silver Spring, MD, said, “My modern World History teacher at Montgomery Blair High School told me that I have always been a go-getter, that I inspire, mentor, and help other students.”
Karina went on to explain, “School is my sanctuary. With access to education, I will never stop learning and contributing more and more and more.” She is currently enrolled at Montgomery College and hopes to transfer to UMBC to study social work after finishing her first 2 years at Montgomery College.
“We are united by a belief that Maryland kids who work hard, graduate from high school and are accepted into a Maryland college deserve the chance to fulfill their dream,” said Merle Cuttitta, president of SEIU Local 500. “SEIU Local 500 members are privileged to see DREAMERS at every stage of their education. Our members are childcare providers and Head Start employees. They work in Montgomery County Public schools and they teach at Montgomery College and other college and universities in the region.”
Students like Karina, who yearn to pursue higher education and contribute to our state, were featured in web videos rolled out by Educating Maryland Kids over the past 2 weeks. To be eligible for the Maryland DREAM Act, students like Karina must not only graduate from a Maryland high school and pay Maryland taxes but they also must start at a community college and attend for 2 years or attain 60 credits before transferring to a four-year public college or university in the state. When they apply to a four-year institution, they’ll be considered in the pool with out-of-state applicants, so there is no competition between native-born Maryland students and DREAM Act students for spots.]]>
Today President Obama will announce a directive protecting all DREAM Act eligible students across the country from deportation and providing them with work permits. These students are talented, hardworking kids who’ve grown up in the United States and want to contribute to our nation but don’t have legal immigration status.
The announcement clears the way for students here in Maryland and states across the country to legally work in the U.S. and reinforces the need for Maryland to uphold its Maryland DREAM Act, allowing all Maryland students who graduated from Maryland high schools and whose families pay Maryland taxes to pay in-state tuition at Maryland public universities.
“The White House’s announcement on DREAM Act eligible students is a huge victory for the thousands of kids who’ve worked hard, played by the rules, and want to give back to the only country they know as home,” said Travis Tazelaar, campaign manager for Educating Maryland Kids. “The decision reaffirms the need for Maryland to pass its own DREAM Act, ensuring that these talented kids can pay in-state tuition at our state universities and build the skills needed to contribute and grow our economy.”
The Department of Homeland Security directive underscores the need for DREAM Act eligible young people, who’ve lived in this country for at least 5 years and graduated from high school, to be able to further their education and prepare for the workforce. The Maryland DREAM Act allows Maryland DREAMers to pay the same in-state tuition rates as their peers and with the new directive, these students will be able to legally work while they obtain their degree and pursue a career after graduation.
Earlier this week President Obama said, “It’s time to stop denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they are children of undocumented immigrants. This country is at its best when it harnesses the God-given talents of every individual.”]]>