DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

Supreme Court in Arizona Hears In-State Tuition Challenge for DACA

arizona supreme court
Students show their support for in-state tuition at Arizona's colleges and universities before a hearing at the Supreme Court of the state. Photo: Frontera Fund.
Written by Carmen Cornejo

DACA beneficiaries in Arizona are among the most embattled in the nation. Since the creation of the process in 2012, the state has taken every action possible to deny DREAMers benefits that are granted to Deferred Action recipients in other states: access to driver’s licenses and in-state tuition.

The litigation to solve both issues has taken years.

Arizona never banned education altogether, but blocking in-state tuition to community colleges and public universities literally puts higher education out of the reach for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Without in-state tuition, students have to pay three times as much as residents pay. That’s an extremely high rate, especially since most DACA beneficiaries are low-income individuals.

All along the way, DACA-DREAMers have organized themselves, sharing their stories of sacrifice and achievement with the media, in order to win support for their causes.

Today, Monday, April 2, 2018, another chapter in the long saga took place. Members of Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) and others gathered in front of the Arizona Supreme Court, first to protest the state’s intention to block in-state tuition in community colleges and universities, and also to participate in the hearing for the case State of Arizona v. Maricopa County Community College District Board (MCCCD) et al.

This hearing comes after a June 2017 ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals, which stated that individuals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are ineligible for in-state tuition, reversing a Maricopa County Superior Court decision granting DACA recipients in-state tuition in 2015.

At the center of the Supreme Court of Arizona’s arguments today is whether DACA beneficiaries who are lawfully present in the country are eligible for resident tuition.

MCCCD decided to accept the employment authorization document (EAD), which is given by the federal government to those who are approved to the DACA program, as proof of residency for in-state tuition purposes.

But Arizona, starting with Attorney General Tom Horne and then followed by Mark Brnovich, has opposed the benefit for years, taking MCCCD to court all the way to the Supreme Court of the State.

Follow this link to review the diverse in-state tuition policies for DACA beneficiaries in different states in the USA.