Arizona House To Vote On Bill That Could Lead To In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students
Last week, the Arizona House advanced a bill that had previously been stalled that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates pending voter approval. The bill is expected to get a final vote early this week.
The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Paul Boyer, thanked Rep. Michelle Udall for making a motion to force it on the board. Without it, he doesn't think the bill would've reached this point.
"She's giving hope to all these students that deserve it, that through no fault of their own were brought here and as far as they're concerned and I'm concerned they're American citizens," Boyer said.
If passed, voters could decide in the 2022 election whether they want to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students who have been in the state for at least two years and graduated from a local high school.
“It would create a real pathway to higher education," said Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento, a community organization. "Right now if you’re in community college, you have to pay 300% more compared to a citizen and you have to pay 150% more in our universities.”
It would come nearly 15 years after a ballot measure, Proposition 300, took in-state tuition away from undocumented students, and about four years after a court ruled that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs also don’t qualify.
Deya Garcia was a full-time student at Mesa Community College when the case was being debated in court. After the ruling, she could only afford being a part-time student. If it wasn't for that setback, Garcia said she would've completed community college this year.
"This would be monumental not only for me but to some many students and students that will not have to struggle through this like straight out of high school," Garcia said.
Montoya and Garcia are hopeful that the state lawmakers and voters will support this legislation.