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Arizona Republic Editorial: Dreamers Are Arizonans, Give Them In-State Tuition

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At the Arizona Republic this week is an editorial calling on the state to reinstate in-state tuition for immigrant students, by overturning a 2006 ballot measure that withheld the lower rate for Dreamers. “These are our children,” the editorial states, “these are Arizona’s kids.”

In June, an appeals court handed down a devastating ruling for some 28,000 Dreamers living in Arizona, overturning a 2015 decision that found that Dreamers with DACA status are legally present. That meant that Proposition 300, an initiative from 2006 that remains on the books, applied to local Dreamers again, preventing them from accessing in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education.

The Arizona Republic editorial points out what a backward policy this is, since Dreamers are Arizonans and a college education would only help them contribute. The article calls on advocates and Republican leaders in Arizona to reinstate in-state tuition — perhaps by overturning Prop 300.

Read the full editorial here or the first half below:

Editorial: Times have changed since Arizona voters passed Proposition 300, which requires dreamers pay out-of-state tuition. It’s time to nix the law.

As we watch again the plight of so-called “dreamers,” immigrant children brought here illegally through no fault of their own, we are moved by one undeniable fact:

These are our children.

These are Arizona’s kids.

We’re keeping our kids in limbo

Migrant mothers and fathers who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally brought them here for a better life at an age when they could not decide such things for themselves.

They grew up in Arizona. They learned in our public schools. They watched the same television shows and ate Big Macs.

In manner and sensibility, they are American — and would feel out of place in a country like Mexico.

Yet today we force them to navigate a policy thicket that denies their relationship to this state and nation. We keep them in limbo.

Arizona is their home, and it is time our laws acknowledge that fact.

Today our statutes are in flux, a tangle of confusion that leaves the dreamers uncertain of their place and their future in their home state.

Higher tuition is a needless barrier

The Arizona attorney general, who hews to the law as the courts have interpreted it, has warned the Arizona Board of Regents they may be violating state law by offering in-state tuition to dreamers.

This is no small thing, because the difference in non-resident tuition and in-state tuition can be crippling to the ambitions of these young people, who often come from meager circumstances.

The in-state rate for undergraduate students at Arizona State University is $10,640 per year, reports Arizona Republic journalist Anne Ryman. The rate for non-resident students is $26,470 per year.

That price differential can be the difference between a successful adult and an unrealized dream. It can force young people to drop out of college or forgo it altogether.

Karina Ruiz, board president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which advocates for the rights of dreamers, told The Republic she graduated with a degree in biochemistry in a process made more difficult by higher tuition rates.

The higher cost prevented her from taking more than one class at a time. She simply couldn’t afford to take more. And that forced her to spend 12 years working to get her degree.

It’s time to change the law

Arizonans who care about dreamers — and that includes large swaths of both liberals and conservatives — should start working together to change the law.