Failure of Democratic Leadership Leaves DREAMers Hanging at End of Maryland 2018 Legislative Session
ANNAPOLIS, MD (TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018) – Immigrant advocates closed the year in Annapolis infuriated that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D – Calvert) failed to expand protections for Maryland DREAMers, despite overwhelming support from Maryland voters who value the contributions of young immigrants in this state.
“From squashing the MD TRUST Act last year to kidnapping DREAM Act reform this year, Senate President Mike Miller and staff have eclipsed an already malignant history of betraying the immigrant community,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA in Action President. “Abandoning DREAMers, especially when we had the Senate votes needed to pass the bill and overwhelming support in the House, is a spiteful action that runs contrary to everything voters want for Maryland, a progressive state that loves DREAMers.”
Eighty-six percent of Americans support protections for DREAMers despite the immigrant bashing rhetoric and policies that continue to be spewed by the Trump administration. Support for DREAMers crosses party lines and demographics and also flows from red districts to blue districts.
Serving as a barometer for Maryland’s receptivity to progressive legislation, another bill that could benefit some DREAMers passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority earlier in the legislative session. The Jill Wrigley Memorial Scholarship Expansion Act, HB 420, would allow some undocumented youth to qualify for needs-based scholarships but leaves DREAMers who have seen their DACA status cancelled by the Trump administration in the lurch.
“Passing the scholarship bill signals that Maryland supports a pro-immigrant agenda that benefits working families,” said William Renderos, Education Advocate and Elections Specialist for CASA. “This bill, however, has limitations as it does not offer assistance to all tax-paying families.”
HB 1536 would have fixed the state’s DREAM Act by allowing current university students with DACA and TPS – students whose status has been cancelled through arbitrary action by the Trump administration – to continue paying at in-state tuition rates as long as they file Maryland state taxes. It would have also allowed qualified DREAMers to matriculate directly into 4 year institutions. The legislation was supported by Maryland colleges and universities, educators, faith-based organizations, and more.
DREAMers take some reassurance from other leaders that supported their struggle. In the House of Delegates, Speaker Michael E. Busch and retiring Ways and Means Chair Emeritus Sheila Hixson, led the bill to a 88-47 super-majority vote. In the Senate, bill sponsor and Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway fought relentlessly for its passage.
“We know that we have great political leaders in Maryland that support us,” said Nathalie Alvarez, a DACA recipient and CASA leader. “That failure is going to turn into real grassroots enthusiasm to turn out the vote come the Maryland primary in June so that those heroes are not alone.”
With nearly 100,000 lifetime members, CASA in Action is the largest electoral organization fighting for immigrant rights in the Mid-Atlantic region. Visit CASAinAction.org.