Arizona Supreme Court: DACA Recipients are Not Entitled to Receive In-State Tuition Rates

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DACA Recipients in-state tuition
Credits:Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) at ASA

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program also known as Dreamers are not entitled to receive in-state tuition rates.

Based on the latest statistics released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the total number of DACA recipients in Arizona is 58,526 as of March 31, 2018.

More than 2,000 DACA recipients pay in-state tuition rates at Arizona community colleges or state universities, according to AZCentral.

On Monday, the justices in the Arizona Supreme Court agreed unanimously to the decision of the court of appeals that existing federal and state laws prohibit Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) Board from granting in-state tuition benefits to DACA recipients.

In a post on Facebook, the Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) at ASA commented that the high court’s decision “will have a damaging effect to DACA students for years to come.”

In 1996, Congress passed Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The law prohibits states from providing in-state tuition rates to undocumented students.

Arizona’s Proposition 300 included IIRIRA’s provision prohibiting in-state tuition for undocumented students. Voters in the state passed the measure in 2006.

Arizona Supreme Court will release further explanation of its ruling 

In 2012, Pres. Barack Obama ordered the implementation of DACA to protect Dreamers from deportation. The Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue work permits to DACA recipients.

The MCCD used the Arizona Revised Statutes § 1-502(7) as basis for granting in-state tuition to Dreamers. The state’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit against MCCCD challenging its argument.

In 2015, a Maricopa County Superior Court  ruled that DACA recipients are lawfully present in the United States, and are eligible to receive in-state tuition. The state government appealed the ruling. The Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the lower court and remanded to the state Supreme Court last year.

According to the Arizona Supreme Court, on May 14, it will release a written opinion on May 14 further explaining its ruling on the matter.