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Arizona Judge Rules DREAMers Can Get In-State Tuition

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An Arizona judge has ruled in favor of undocumented students, putting to rest a lawsuit filed by former Attorney General Tom Horne arguing that undocumented students should not be allowed to pay in-state tuition at Arizona colleges and universities.

Back in 2013, the Maricopa County Community College District sought to challenge then-Governor Jan Brewer’s notion that undocumented students who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were not considered Arizona residents.

The lawsuit in question, grounded in Arizona’s Proposition 300, argued that in-state tuition was a public benefit that should not be accessible to undocumented immigrants. However, Judge Arthur Anderson of the Maricopa County Superior Court handed the following ruling:

Federal law, not state law, determines who is lawfully present in the U.S. … The circumstance under which a person enters the U.S. does not determine that person’s lawful presence here.”

While the ruling is limited to undocumented students within Arizona’s Maricopa County, the precedent is surely going to make waves within the Arizona board of Regents, which is expected to take up the in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and vote on the issue during a meeting in June.

Following the court’s decision, the Board of Regents released the following statement:

“The Arizona Board of Regents is committed to broadening access and affordability for all students in Arizona and, as part of that mission, supports lawful opportunities to increase access for DACA students. We are currently reviewing the court’s decision. As we do with all board policies, we will comply fully with state and federal law.

While this is another major victory for undocumented students aspiring to attend an institution of higher education, there is still work ahead.

Arizona’s current Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has until June 5 to challenge the ruling, also released a statement regarding Judge Anderson’s ruling:

“No one is more sympathetic to the cause of immigration than General Brnovich, but the law is the law. General Brnovich believes he has an obligation to respect the will of Arizona voters. Our office is currently reviewing the decision and weighing all legal options including appeal.”

The Arizona’s Board of Regents will meet today at 10am (MST) to discuss the impact of the Anderson’s ruling.

UPDATE: Per the Arizona Republic’s Anne Ryman, the Arizona Board of Regents voted this morning to grant Arizona DREAMers in-state tuition.