Evangelical Immigration Reform Groups Celebrate Maryland's Dream Act

Evangelical immigration reformers expressed happiness over the passage of Maryland's Dream Act, which appeared on the ballot yesterday as Question 4.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), told The Christian Post that he supported the legislation.

"I endorsed it, celebrate it. It's the right thing to do," said Rodriguez, whose organization has been active in nationwide immigration reform efforts.

"I commend the citizens of the state of Maryland … the citizens of Maryland basically decided not to confine these young people into perpetual poverty, not to confine them because of the sins and the failures of their parents."

Jenny Yang, director of Advocacy and Policy for the Baltimore-based group World Relief, told CP that she was "encouraged" by the passage of the Dream Act.

"The bill having passed in Maryland is a strong sign that those in the community who know these young immigrants, have gone to school with them and seen them contribute to the community, strongly support these young people being able to pursue their dreams of higher education," said Yang.

"In fact, it was mostly young people who drove the initiative and mobilized thousands of voters to support the bill because immigrants are not separate from the larger community, but they are us."

In response to some who may feel that the Dream Act rewards bad behavior by giving benefits to the children of those who illegally entered the country, Yang responded that the Act benefitted those who had no choice in the matter.

"The students who will benefit from the Dream Act often had no choice in being brought to this country. We don't punish children for the choices that their parents make and some, if not many, of these students are in the process of getting lawful immigration status," said Yang.

"The Dream Act doesn't reward bad behavior because the students will have to prove that they were law-abiding, attended school or enlisted in the armed services."

Question 4 on the Maryland ballot, titled the Dream Act, would allow for undocumented immigrants in Maryland to receive in-state tuition under certain conditions. Question 4 was supported by groups like Casa de Maryland and Educating Maryland's Kids, while being opposed by groups like Help Save Maryland and One Maryland Defense.

On Tuesday, Maryland voters went to the polls and passed the referendum question 58.3 percent in favor and 41.7 percent opposed.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the NIF, said in a statement that he believed the 2012 Presidential Election was a major watershed moment for immigrant voters and the clamor for reform.

"An extraordinary number of voters, including record numbers of Latino, Asian and New American voters, went to the polls clamoring for practical solutions that honor our values and move our nation forward," said Noorani.

"The message was clear: President Obama must fulfill his campaign promise and work with congressional leaders to create a common-sense immigration process that treats all people with dignity. And Republicans must choose pragmatism over extremism on immigration, putting forward practical solutions that create a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans."

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