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Immigrant Tuition Bill Delayed By Petition Drive

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Opponents of the state's new in-state tuition law for illegal immigrants get a few final signatures in their effort to put the Dream Act on the ballot.  Kelly McPherson explains what this could mean for Maryland's landmark immigration law.

Organizers say they've gathered more than 110,000 signatures from Marylanders wanting a state-wide referendum on a controversial issue about to go into law this summer.

"The reason we've done that is because of the passion and the outrage of the people for this so-called Dream Act," said Delegate Pat McDonough.

The act, signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley this year after a heated debate in the legislature, would allow some children of illegal citizens to pay the in-state tuition rate for Maryland universities.

"This will allow us to have a more educated work force, which is good for all of us," O'Malley said.

Petition signers believe they'll win a referendum.

"If they're a hard worker and honest, I think they'll vote no.  Don't go for it," said Wayne Gerbes.

"If you're not in this country legally, you should not get benefits the taxpayers get.  It's simple," said Karen Efird.

But supporters of the idea believe voters will believe it's more fair to help the students.

"We're telling kids to strive to achieve in school and then for a select minority, we're telling them that it doesn't apply to you," said Charly Carter.  "These are the kids that go to school with my daughter, that play on the fields here."

The referendum would take place in November 2012, which is also a presidential election.  That typically means a big voter turnout.

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