Thursday, September 24, 2015

This Arizona Congressman Wants to Make Sure Undocumented Students Don't Get College In-State Tuition

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Dario Andrade Mendoza, member of Scholarships A-Z, a Tucson-based undocumented students advocacy group. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Dario Andrade Mendoza, member of Scholarships A-Z, a Tucson-based undocumented students advocacy group.
Republican Congressman Paul Gosar says it is "unthinkable" that some states have granted undocumented immigrants in-state college tuition, so he's sponsoring legislation that would ensure this doesn't happen anymore. 

"...other legal American citizens, playing by the rules, have to pay out-of-state tuition to attend public universities," he said in a statement to the media. "With a stagnant economy, American students are facing enough challenges upon graduating from college and shouldn't bear more financial burdens as a result of loopholes crafted by attorneys that pull illegal aliens not in lawful immigration statues ahead of  U.S. citizens."

In May, the Arizona Board of Regents voted to grant undocumented students, also known as DREAMers, in-state tuition at the three public universities. It marked a big win for DREAMers, who'd been demanding that benefit for at least the past three years. (Mind you, most of them have lived in Arizona since they were children and graduated high school or got a GED in the state. Also, in 2012 President Obama gave them a two-year renewable work permit and permission to be in the country—an executive action called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.)

In past years, ABOR followed Prop 300—a referendum approved by Arizona voters in 2006 that says university students who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents do not qualify for in-state tuition or financial aid "funded or subsidized by state monies." Among Prop 300's required documents to prove residency in the state are driver's licenses, a W-2, an employee ID badge with photo, etc. DACA recipients have been getting driver's licenses since December 2014, and, ever since DACA went into effect in 2012, they've had work permits, which means a job, which equals paying taxes, which equals a W-2. 

The ABOR stamp of approval was largely influenced by Maricopa Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson's May ruling, settling a two-year lawsuit between Maricopa County Community College and former Arizona attorney general Tom Horne over in-state benefits for DREAMers attending the college. Horne argued Maricopa violated Prop 300, but Anderson ruled that "Arizona law doesn't bar benefits to immigrants lawfully in the country, and that under federal law, the DACA students are lawfully present," according to The Arizona Republic

Gosar cited the Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, which prohibits states from providing post secondary education benefits to "unlawfully present aliens based on their resident in the state unless all U.S. citizens of national are eligible for such benefits, regardless of their state residence," the press release said. 

"Creative loopholes, such as allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates because they happened to graduate from an in-state high school, violate the intent of this law," Gosar argued. 

HR 3566, endorsed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, also has a companion bill in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana. U.S. House co-sponsors include Arizona Congressman Trent Franks. 

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