Proponents of the DREAM Act campaign in Maryland until the final hour hoping for the passage of in-state tuition rates for local illegal immigrants
As former Republican turned Independent candidate for United States Senate in Maryland, Rob Sobhani attacks the GOP nominee Dan Bongino in a recent robocall for ‘not publicly declaring English the official language’; the Bongino camp has fired back with a complaint filed with the FEC regarding a blatantly apparent violation of the laws regarding automated phone calls known as robocalls.
Bongino deputy campaign manager Sharon Strine says that the call was clearly a misleading automated phone call meant to confuse Marylanders, without the authority line or disclaimer required by federal law – in an apparent attempt at hiding the calls origin. “Faced with collapsing poll numbers despite spending his personal fortune (almost $7 million to date), Mr. Sobhani decided to continue his campaign of deceit by brazenly violating the law,” says Strine, who says it should be no surprise coming from someone willingly and knowingly gave over $300,000 to a firm with a long history of criminal and fraudulent behaviors.
Listening to the robocall in question (found here), one would see an apparent brazen attempt to skirt the FEC campaign regulation requiring all public communications – including that of automated robocalls – that are paid for, or in favor of a particular federal candidate’s campaign, to include a disclaimer indicating who the call was paid for by, so as to not mislead the electorate. It also requires that these calls begin with the identity of the entity behind the call, in addition to including that information somewhere during or after the message given to the voter. However, this level of deceit by the Sobhani campaign is nothing new these days, as his campaign has been saddled with underhanded campaign tactics that has many state politicos looking into his questionable strategy to bamboozle the Maryland electorate.
Seen as a divisive candidate that had entered the campaign to siphon off votes possibly obtained by the GOP candidate Bongino in an attempt to defeat the democratic incumbent Ben Cardin; Sobhani has resorted to hiring politically uneducated African Americans to do his dirty work in black dominated districts like Baltimore City and Prince George’s County to sell a false bag of goods. He has been caught handing out Early Voting literature that had the picture of President Obama on it, with a check mark next to his and Obama’s name, as if he supports the President, and vice-versa; while also flip-flopping on immigration reform policy like the Md. DREAM Act – which he has been for and against throughout this campaign. Sobhani also was forced to pull an ad off the radio airwaves in which he falsely linked former 2006 US Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume’s words to his own campaign, suggesting somehow that Mfume supports a change in this office and that change is Sobhani; yet, my good friend Kweisi has vehemently denied such permission for the usage of his words from campaign events six years ago, stating he never once spoke to Rob Sobhani and fully supports Cardin’s re-election.
“This guy is something else, as he alienates his base of Independent voters in Baltimore because we were too real for him, then he hires questionable local organizers and nationally convicted groups to get the required signatures to get on the ballot; and now he’s consistently caught lying, cheating and next it’ll be stealing if Marylanders are foolish enough to elect him,” says Independent political analyst, Shaun Louis. “This guy gives Independents a bad name, as we have been fighting for the rights of Independent voters for over 5-years now and never once heard from this fool, who lost twice as a Republican and now expects to reinvent himself under our banner – we ain’t having that boss!”
And while candidates continue to battle for every last vote they can muster up for an election day victory, proponents of the state’s more divisive and polarizing ballot questions are also seeking approval from the electorate with their push for approval on Election Day.
Members of Intersection held a press conference on Sunday in favor of Question 4 – the Md. DREAM Act – followed by door knocking and canvassing over 1,500 doors in the Baltimore region. The non-profit youth organization that hosted one of the most successful Mayoral debates in Baltimore during last year’s citywide elections, now intends to see that the passage of a bill that allows for in-state tuition to be given to illegal immigrants residing in Maryland. The law passed in 2011 by the Maryland General Assembly yet petitioned to referendum by the people in this year’s elections, has divided an electorate who shares a similar view on the need for equal education, but differs completely on the need for such legislation.
Joined by nearly 200 Baltimore area residents and a few democratic elected officials, members of the group – led by co-founder and executive director Zeke Cohen – made their voices heard in a last ditch effort to see that fellow students and lifetime friends known as ‘DREAMers’ get the same tuition rate that they will receive. “My goal, as is the goal shared by my peers who happen to be undocumented immigrants, is to go to college to further my education; yet, that goal is unattainable to those undocumented who are forced to pay substantially more in out-of-state tuition based on their immigration status,” says Antonio Crossly, a Intersection student organizer and Junior at the Baltimore Freedom Academy where the press conference was held. “I want to ensure that college education is not restricted, but is readily available to anyone willing to work for it.”
However, opponents of the measure, such as freshman Republican Delegate Neil Parrott – whose group MDPetitions.com was responsible for getting the measure on the ballot – says that these students aren’t currently excluded or restricted from furthering their education; yet, simply need to comply with the law that counts them as out-of-state residents based on them not even being legal residents of this country – let alone the state. “Maryland affords every young person the right to a higher education, yet we cannot begin to make amendments to laws based on the political expedience of one parties quest for a particular voting bloc (i.e. Latinos) without taking into consideration the long-term consequences of the entire electorate,” says Parrott at a recent Baltimore City townhall on the measure. “The cost of allowing illegal aliens to get a $17,000 tax break will be devastating to the law-abiding citizens of this great state; not to mention that federal law still prohibits businesses to hire these children once they receive their degrees paid for by taxpayers hard earned finances.”
Yet, since being prompted to assist their peers and fellow students on ensuring the passage of this law earlier this year, members of Intersection have knocked on over 5,000 doors, made over 1,500 phone calls and spoken with over 2,000 voters relaying their passionate pleas for passage of this bill. Jonathan Jayes Green, a Marylander ‘DREAMer’ pleaded for the passage of this bill, as he said he was ultimately affected by the current law, which deferred his dream of attending the University of Maryland, College Park. The student with a 4.0 GPA and over 1,000 hours of community service credits, along with being a mentor and church volunteer, who moved to Maryland in 2005 with his parents entering the 8th grade; found that he couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition rate being offered by UMD. However, gaining admission into his community college’s highly selective honors program and receiving a private scholarship to fund two years of college allowed Mr. Green to go to community college; and was later admitted to Goucher, a private Maryland college, who offered him some financial aid.
So while people like Attorney General Doug Gansler, who recently wrote an op-ed contending that the DREAM Act is a good investment; we see others like Delegate Pat McDonough point to the financial burden it will bring upon the voters of Maryland. While advocates tout it as a means of advancing education, opponents contend that the current law doesn’t discourage educational opportunities, as seen in the case of Mr. Green. One point of contention does get muddled, whereas the law states that the parents of these children must file tax returns, while proponents say their parents are required to pay taxes; one must realize that filing a tax return is not the same as actually paying taxes.
And while this law requires these children attend a two-year college before entering a four-year institution (while also having to have attended three years of high school); it allows for the same in-state tuition break in both the community college and four-year university. Yet, it does not require these students or their parents to become legalized residents of Maryland or the United States; leaving a lingering problem of immigration reform that has been an consistently unaddressed issue in America, based on the lack of testicular fortitude to tackle a comprehensive reform package by our national elected officials.
Find ALL the 2012 Maryland ballot questions and candidates, as well as the local ballot issues facing Baltimore City voters here at the IMPAC website.
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