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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


January 27, 2012

Will The Dream become a reality?

Jill King

While many are intrigued by the upcoming presidential election and perplexed as to why The Sixth Congressional District is gathering so many Republican candidates, a less publicized decision loses its fizz. The Dream Act, which sought an overwhelming majority of distaste, has been shoved into the background.

 

Could it be that they don’t want us to know what we are up against?

 

The Dream Act, a path to allow non-citizens a way to gain in-state college tuition was signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2011. Marylanders were furious over this legislation and decided to act, creating a state-wide push to fight back.

 

A successful petition drive, led by Del. Neil Parrot (R., Washington) and co-chaired by Del. Pat McDonough (R., Baltimore/Harford) has placed this issue on the 2012 ballot. Many delegates and engaged citizens worked diligently to exceed the goal of 100,000 signatures, only to have Casa de Maryland dispute the method and signatures through the judicial system; it soon lost its court challenge.

 

Casa de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, has now created a separate, but affiliated partner, Casa in Action, a 501(c)(4) agency. This related group’s sole purpose is to participate in educational actions and legislative and political sponsorship. Although their funds are not to be comingled, their focus remains the same: supplying needs to immigrants and potential immigrants.

 

In 1985, Casa de Maryland was organized, creating a shelter, providing jobs, and engaging in social, political, and economic justice for immigrants from Central and South America. They have now risen to the ranks of one of the largest not-for-profits in Maryland.

 

But this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

 

Casa de Maryland itself has pledged an all-out war on the referendum, creating a new “exempt” managerial position to seek $10 million in funding to oppose the successful ballot initiative. This position is one that – once filled – will last from January 2012 to November 2012. The responsibilities include raising funds and creating solicitation materials for mass distribution. In occupying this temporary seat, the leader will report and work directly with Educating Maryland Kids.

 

According to a statement made in 2008 by Jennifer Freedman, Casa de Maryland’s director of development, “about 45% of Casa’s annual $6.3 million budget comes from government sources.”

 

While claiming this, they also conclude that they are attempting to change this and seek more from private donations. Unfortunately, other than that of the 2008 findings, most of the funding has been hidden from the public. The 2010 donor list without funding dollars is the only available information of this questionable not-for-profit. A search for 2008 and 2009 donor information have turned up empty so far.

 

During 2007, Maryland skyrocketed state appropriations for higher education, bringing the level up to 15.3 percent, from the prior to 2006 mark of 7 percent. Is it possible that the legislation for the first run of the federal Dream Act affected this total? It is odd that state appropriations went down again in 2008 to a 7.6 percent level. It is obvious that Governor O’Malley and counties with large immigrant population are preparing for a win. Casa de Maryland is beefing up its funds to take a Round 2 punch at citizens who oppose funding for higher education for illegal immigrants.

 

One sufficient explanation could be the enactment of Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF). Set forth in 2007, this program was enacted during a special session. The sole source of revenue for this fund was one half of the increase in corporate income tax, implemented for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) of 2009 carried HEIF through 2010, with the hopes of permanency.

 

With the state finding ways of increasing funding for Maryland colleges from taxpayers’ pockets and Casa de Maryland setting a fundraising bar of $10 million to increase the viability of The Dream Act, how can the opposition succeed? How can it be that Casa de Maryland can raise $10 million to fight against a solid effort by petitioners, but not designate this money to achieving its “dream?”

 

How will the referendum question on the ballot be written; will yes mean no and vice versa? When voting no on a referendum, usually it means you are against the proposed bill and yes means you are for it. Subtle tricks of ballot-question writing are often used to pass or reject bills, proving that this may not be true in this case.

 

Clearly this proves our tax dollars are at work once again, providing a special interest group with a win. When will Maryland citizens say enough is enough?

 

Hopefully this referendum will change Maryland government’s way of delegating resources for projects that we, as a whole, don’t want or need.

 

Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with the past…

 

retrainbrain@hotmail.com

 



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