Sunday, December 11, 2011

DREAM ACT: Update on CASA de Maryland's Lawsuit Against 2012 Rightwing Referendum

Last week, Maryland Juice (haphazardly) wrote about CASA de Maryland's lawsuit to stop a referendum against the Dream Act in 2012. The law would grand in-state tuition to Maryland children regardless of immigration status, but rightwing groups gathered signatures to put the Dream Act on the ballot in 2012. CASA challenged the referendum on multiple grounds, and we previously noted that they dropped one aspect of the legal challenge. Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail updates us on the story:
The Maryland General Assembly passed an in-state tuition bill in April, and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed it into law. To qualify, illegal immigrants must meet a series of standards, such as graduating from a Maryland high school, then attending a community college.... submitted 108,923 signatures that were considered valid — roughly twice the required minimum.

About one-third of the signatures were obtained through a website that retrieved voter information from a database, lessening the chance of having an invalid petition....

The plaintiffs ... challenged the successful referendum effort on two grounds.

One was that the referendum organizers used an illegitimate online signature-gathering process and also collected other invalid signatures in person.

On that point, Joseph Sandler, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the website system was the main concern. However, the plaintiffs realized that even if all of the signatures collected through the website process were invalidated, there still would be enough signatures for the referendum effort to succeed, he said....

The plaintiffs' second point of contention, which remains active, is that the in-state tuition law is an appropriations measure and, as such, not subject to referendum....

A motions hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in Annapolis.
Some Maryland legal experts I've spoken to think that CASA's primary legal argument is a very serious claim. Essentially, because the bill affects appropriations, the argument is that the law is not subject to referendum. More on the Dream Act lawsuit soon!

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