Arizona Supreme Court Hears DACA Tuition Case

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 4:00am
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 4:05am
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(Photo by Matthew Casey - KJZZ)
Perla Martinez (top row, center) is a DACA recipient and college freshman studying computer science. She said without in-state tuition, she could not go to school.

The Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a case challenging the Maricopa County Community College District's decision to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA has had some big court victories. Federal judges blocked President Donald Trump from completely ending the program, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently let Arizona’s so-called Dreamers keep their driver’s licenses.

College freshman Perla Martinez hoped for another win as she stood with fellow DACA recipients and their supporters on the steps of the Arizona Supreme Court. Studying computer science would be unaffordable for Martinez without in-state tuition, she said. 

“And I would probably have to have a year gap or two in order to save up money to pay at least one year of tuition,” Martinez said.

Inside the Arizona Supreme Court, the justices heard from both sides. Assistant Solicitor General Rusty Crandell spoke against in-state tuition for DACA recipients. Even though they can legally work and drive, he said having DACA does not mean they’re lawfully present.

“The fact that aliens with deferred action status are lawfully present for only specific purposes, confirms that they’re not lawfully present for all other purposes,” Crandell said.

The state’s highest court did not rule on the case Monday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

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