Press Contact: Jon Pattee
WASHINGTON, DC November 7, 2012 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds yesterday’s decision by Maryland voters to approve a state law that offers an in-state tuition discount to certain undocumented college students, and urges Congress to work with newly re-elected President Barack Obama to bring about comprehensive federal immigration reform.
“This landmark win for the Maryland DREAM Act shows that America has the momentum to create humane and just immigration reform,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO. “Just as the Maryland DREAM Act will benefit our families and communities, so, too, will the federal DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform.”
“Americans want to resolve our immigration issues once and for all, and move forward based on shared values of fairness and opportunity,” said Hartke. “The Maryland victory is one of many reasons to believe in renewed opportunities to achieve comprehensive immigration reform based on those values.”
The Maryland law, which is known as the state’s version of the DREAM Act, grants in-state public tuition rates to certain young undocumented immigrants who attended Maryland high schools for at least three years and meet other conditions.
“This referendum was a rare opportunity for voters to directly approve such a law, and LIRS is proud to have worked with Lutheran congregations to bring about this victory,” said Folabi Olagbaju, who spearheaded LIRS’s participation in the state-wide movement supporting Maryland DREAMers.
LIRS reached Lutheran leaders and congregation members with the DREAM Act message by creating and disseminating newsletter announcements and church bulletin inserts, printing hundreds of “Another Lutheran for the DREAM Act” yard signs, mounting a social media campaign through Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, visiting churches for face-to-face conversations with clergy and lay leaders, and developing educational resources for Marylanders to read and download.
“We worked with Maryland’s churches, asking their members to prayerfully consider supporting the young people who will benefit from equal access to education,” said Olagbaju. “Thanks to the support of people of faith like them, Maryland awakes this morning with more opportunities for hard-working young people to succeed and give back to our communities.”
“We’re proud to have worked side-by-side with key organizations like CASA de Maryland and Educating Maryland Kids,” added Olagbaju. “Their leadership truly made today’s victory possible.”
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. LIRS’s national headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland and its advocacy office is located in Washington, DC.