Arizonans to vote on giving Dreamers in-state tuition in 2022 

The Arizona House of Representatives passed SCR 1044 on Monday by a 33 to 27 margin, paving the way for Arizonans to vote on giving DACA program recipients in-state tuition at the state’s public universities. It passed along bipartisan lines, with 5 Republican representatives voting for the measure. It had already passed the Senate 17-13 in March of this year.  

Republican senators Paul Boyer, Tyler Pace, and T.J. Shope along with Republican representatives Joanna Osborne, Michelle Udall, David Cook, and Joel John supported the effort, along with the entire House and Senate Democratic caucuses. 

What SCR1044 does 

A Senate Concurrent Resolution, SCR 1044 does not need Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature. Its passage through both houses of the state legislature means that all Arizona voters will have the opportunity to vote on giving DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, in-state tuition at Arizona’s public universities. 

This vote triggers a Legislature-initiated referendum. Should it receive more than 50% of the electorate’s support in November of 2022, the initiative will become law. 

From 150% to 100%? 

In 2019, the Arizona Board of Regents – the body responsible for overseeing Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona – voted 8-0 to ensure that Dreamers would only pay 150% of a public university’s in-state tuition should they be accepted to the school. 

Dreamer advocates supported this decision by the Board of Regents, but they are passionate about securing tuition parity for DACA recipients. Reyna Montoya, the founder of Aliento Arizona – an immigration advocacy group – and a Dreamer herself, said: “Today is a bright day & I’m so hopeful that after almost 15 [years] I can finally tell my students that with the support of voters they can pay in-state tuition in the near future.” 

Future of DACA 

The DACA program, created and expanded by President Barack Obama without Congressional cooperation, has not yet been made permanent by Congress. President Joe Biden has strengthened the program via executive order after the Trump Administration’s attempts to push Congress to vote on long-term protections. The program enjoys bipartisan support, but has yet to receive passed and signed Congressional approval. 

Republican concerns

The House and Senate Republican caucuses worry that the language of the resolution would extend this tuition reduction to all undocumented immigrants in the state, not just Dreamers.

SCR 1044 stipulates that any Arizona student who does not fit the classification of a nonimmigrant alien (which extends to “an ambassador, public minister, or career diplomatic or consular officer who has been accredited by a foreign government…, upon a basis of reciprocity, other officials and employees who have been accredited by a foreign government recognized de jure by the United States, who are accepted by the Secretary of State, and the members of their immediate families and… upon a basis of reciprocity, attendants, servants, personal employees, and members of their immediate families, of the officials and employees who have a nonimmigrant status”) can receive the in-state rate, should the proposition pass in 2022, if they have attended high school or homeschool in the state, while being “physically present” in Arizona for at least two years, or have graduated from one of these schools and received a diploma from either option.

Published by Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is the Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of the Western Tribune.

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