GOP lawmaker revives in-state tuition for ‘Dreamers’ 

GOP lawmaker revives in-state tuition for ‘Dreamers’ 

A ballot measure that could let Arizona “Dreamers” pay in-state tuition to attend universities and community colleges was unexpectedly revived in the House of Representatives on May 5 and could pass on May 10. 

As the House prepared to wrap up its business May 5, Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, moved that Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044 be placed on the House’s first read calendar and, in the coming days, moved through the legislative process. The measure passed the Senate 17-13 on March 4, with three Republicans joining the Democrats to pass it, but hadn’t moved in the House. It would ask voters in November 2022 if they want to repeal a portion of the 2006 Proposition 300 that bars students who are living in the country without legal permission from receiving in-state tuition or state aid. 

The measure would affect “Dreamers,” dubbed so from the federal DREAM Act that has never passed. The act would allow young immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children to remain in the country if they meet certain criteria. That same population also falls under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program implemented under then-President Obama. Opponents of the federal legislation and program say they reward people for breaking the law, encourage illegal immigration and hurt American workers.  

“I think it’s an important matter,” Udall said. “I’d been hoping all session to get it to the floor. We tried going the regular route. … At the end of the day, I felt like I needed to do what I felt was the right thing.” 

Republicans ate up more than an hour with several procedural moves to block Udall’s motion, first trying to adjourn for the day, then asking for a recess so the parties could caucus. These all failed 29-31, with Udall and Rep. Joel John, R-Buckeye, joining the Democrats to defeat them. On the final vote, Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, joined the Democrats and the two other Republicans to support the passage of Udall’s motion. 

The House reader then read it aloud, setting the resolution up for a second reading May 6 and for a final vote on May 10, which will be the next day the House is in session. Udall said she doesn’t believe there is any way it can be blocked from coming to a vote on May 10, meaning that barring some unforeseen event, if the coalition of Democrats and a couple of Republicans who forced the issue sticks together, it will pass and be referred to the ballot for voters to decide. 

Udall, who is the chairwoman of the House Education Committee, was in the spotlight all day May 5. Besides bringing SCR1044 to the floor, she sponsored an amendment to another bill, which passed on a party-line vote, restricting the teaching of critical race theory and controversial political topics in Arizona schools.