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An internal poll released by a group that supports Maryland’s 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 March poll, with about 60 percent of voters saying they favor the Dream Act.

Opponents dismissed the poll’s findings.

“It’s close, but it’s definitely not 60 to 26 [percent],” said Paul Mendez, an activist with Help Save Maryland. “But I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk our way either.”

Maryland’s Dream Act, passed by the General Assembly in April, will appear as a referendum question on November’s 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. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

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-Baltimore), an opponent of the Dream Act, called the latest poll “bogus” and “useless.”

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.

“This idea is going to go down in flames,” McDonough said.

The poll showed three of four blacks voting in favor of Question 4.

“A lot of people have encountered misinformation [about the Dream Act],” Ford said.

“They think that this is some kind of free ride for undocumented people, or a scholarship program that legal residents don’t have access to.”

hnunn@gazette.net