Students ‘dream’ of brighter future
Jonathan Green had one dream: to attend Towson University.
An immigrant from Panama, Green is undocumented, meaning he is not a legal citizen. Because of his status in the U.S., Green was unable to attend Towson, as it was too much for his family to afford.
“I graduated at the top of my class and I had tons of student service learning hours,” Green said. “Instead of going to Towson though, I went to community college for two years and then transferred to Goucher.”
If Marylanders choose to pass the Maryland DREAM Act, students like Green may be able to attend their first-choice schools, as undocumented immigrants would be allowed to attend state Universities for in-state tuition after attending community college for two years.
“I can’t wait to be an American citizen,” Green said. “Right now, there is no pathway for me to do that, but when there is, I’ll be the first one in line.”
The DREAM Act, Question 4 on the Maryland ballot, will be put up to vote during the Nov. 6 election.
Originally passed during the Maryland General Assembly during the 2011 legislative session, the bill was signed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed May 10, 2011, but opponents of the bill met the petition requirement to get it as a referendum on the ballot.
Junior Roselyn Melgar said she is in support of the DREAM Act so that her friends who are undocumented can attend college.
“It’s not fair to my friends back home can’t get a degree because they can’t afford it,” she said.
The Student Government Association has passed a resolution announcing their support of the DREAM Act.
SGA Attorney General Glorimar Quinones said the resolution is important because many students are unaware of what the DREAM Act means to many college hopefuls.
“It’s important because the executive board has seen the impact that it can have on students,” she said. “[SGA Director of Diversity Outreach] Sam Hubbard worked her entire summer campaigning for this, and we want to see the results of her work and keep in mind that this really affects people.”
When fully implemented, the DREAM Act could cost the state of Maryland $3.5 million a year in taxpayer money, according to the Baltimore Sun, although it is projected that it could also make the state $5 million per graduating class, as graduates could enter the workforce and funnel money back into the economy.
Opponents of the DREAM Act, such as Maryland State Delegate Kathy Afzali, criticize the bill for costing too much in taxpayers’ money, and said it would not actually benefit the state.
“Who exactly is going to hire an accountant, or a doctor of a lawyer, who does not have a green card?” Afzali said to the Baltimore Sun. “Who is going to hire a person who is illegal? It is one thing to hire somebody under the table to be a mid or a gardener. Who is going to hire an accountant under the table?”
Afzali could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
To fight against the opponents of the bill, Hubbard, along with SGA Treasurer Ben Mendelsohn and Quinones, hosted an event Tuesday, Oct. 2 called “Actualizing the DREAM.”
Prior to meeting in the event in West Village Commons ballrooms, a group of students from Towson, as well as other local community and state colleges, marched from Freedom Square through West Village, chanting in support of the DREAM Act.
The group was followed by several Towson faculty members, but was greeted with several stares from other students, and questions of what they were even supporting.
Jennifer Herrera, a student at Towson and part of the TU DREAM Team, a student group on campus pushing for the passage of the DREAM Act, said the event was mainly to clear up misconceptions that students had about the bill.
“What a lot of students don’t know is that it has nothing to do with citizenship,” she said. “It has everything to do with being fair.”
-Megan Flannery contributed to this article