A recent internal poll released by a group that supports Marylandís Dream Act shows widespread backing for the measure.
The poll, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based polling firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group and paid for by the coalition Educating Maryland Kids, shows support has inched up 3 percentage points since a previous poll in March, with about 60 percent of voters saying they favor the Dream Act.
Opponents dismissed the pollís findings.
ďItís close, but itís definitely not 60 to 26 [percent],Ē said Paul Mendez, an activist with Help Save Maryland. ďBut Iím not saying itís a slam dunk our way either.Ē
Marylandís Dream Act, passed by the General Assembly in April, will appear as a referendum question on Novemberís ballot, after opposition groups ran a successful petition drive.
The law would allow undocumented students who attended Maryland public high schools for three years and graduated, and whose families have filed state income taxes for three consecutive years, to pay in-state tuition at Maryland community colleges and, eventually, state universities.
In the poll, Garin-Hart-Yang asked 503 likely voters how they would vote on ballot Question 4, and 60 percent said they were in favor, 26 percent were against, and 14 percent were undecided.
A January poll by Annapolis-based Gonzales Research and Marketing showed that Marylanders were divided on the Dream Act issue, with 48 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed, a split Mendez said is more accurate.
The Garin-Hart-Yang survey shows good momentum for the Dream Act campaign, said Kristin Ford, spokeswoman for Educating Maryland Kids.
In the next couple of weeks, she said, Marylanders can expect to begin seeing and hearing TV and radio ads in favor of Question 4.
Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Dist. 7) of Middle River, a vocal opponent of the Dream Act called the latest poll ďbogusĒ and ďuseless.Ē
McDonough said he has seen more than enough evidence to convince him that most Marylanders, especially blacks, are opposed to the Dream Act.
Opponents say minority students will be displaced from community colleges by an influx of undocumented students.
ďThis idea is going to go down in flames,Ē McDonough said.
The poll showed three of four blacks voting in favor of Question 4.
ďA lot of people have encountered misinformation [about the Dream Act],Ē Ford said.
ďThey think that this is some kind of free ride for undocumented people, or a scholarship program that legal residents donít have access to.Ē