WASHINGTON– Inclusive policies like the Dream Act, which provides in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants, are key to building a successful economy in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday at the Center for American Progress, a progressive advocacy group.
In Maryland, inclusive policies include promoting the right to vote, guaranteeing marriage equality and treating immigrants with dignity and respect, O’Malley said.
The governor, whose second term ends in 2014, is a potential Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential race.
“In Maryland, we believe our diversity is our strength,” O’Malley said. “We all do better when we’re all doing better.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke before O’Malley, highlighted the challenges the United States faces in tackling climate change and reducing emissions.
Building an innovative economy requires not just investments, but also smart and inclusive policies, O’Malley said.
“Building an innovation economy, creating jobs and expanding opportunities in the face of all those tremendous challenges that Vice President Al Gore was talking about, doing these things requires more than smart investments,” O’Malley said. “It also requires smart and inclusive policies, policies that are based on the belief we share in the dignity of every individual.”
In 2012, Maryland passed the Civil Marriage Equality Act, paving the way for same-sex couples to marry in the state, and the Dream Act, allowing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
“More than half of Maryland’s population growth, 55 percent since the year 2000, is due to growing immigrant communities,” O’Malley said.
The governor also highlighted Maryland’s high rate of minority-owned businesses, which have increased 70 percent since 2007, and said the state is one of the top three in the country for upward mobility.
“We’re creating jobs at the fastest rate of any in our region,” O’Malley said.
The June Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, which O’Malley said will deny some people the right to vote, is the antithesis of inclusive policies, he said.
“It’s hard to think of anything more contrary to the spirit of American democracy than trying to prevent those who disagree with you from having their voice heard,” O’Malley said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and others also spoke at the conference.