Proposal to give ‘Dreamers’ in-state tuition goes to ballot

Proposal to give ‘Dreamers’ in-state tuition goes to ballot

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) supporters march in Phoenix on Sept. 5, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) supporters march in Phoenix on Sept. 5, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona voters will decide in November 2022 whether immigrants in this country illegally who are Arizona residents should be allowed to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. 

The House voted 33-27 to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044, with Reps. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa; Joel John, R-Buckeye; David Cook, R-Globe; and Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, joining all 29 Democrats to advance the measure. It passed the Senate 17-13 in March, with three Republicans joining the Democrats in that chamber to pass it. 

 … today I am voting for all ‘Dreamers’ because you are our future doctors, scientists, engineers, educators and much more,” said Rep. Rich Andrade, D-Glendale. 

The resolution was never assigned to a House committee after passing the Senate and appeared to be dormant for two months until Udall made a motion to revive it last week, prevailing with John’s support against the rest of the House Republicans in a series of procedural motions to force it to be put on the calendar for a vote. Udall said it isn’t fair to penalize people who were brought to the U.S. as children for either the actions of their parents or this country’s failure to fix its immigration system. 

“We cannot continue to hold them hostage based on the actions or inactions of others,” she said. 

The measure, if approved by voters, would repeal a portion of 2006’s Proposition 300, which bars immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally from receiving in-state tuition, instead letting them receive it if they went to high school in Arizona and have lived in the state for at least two years. 

Several Republicans said they supported the policy behind the proposal, but were voting “no” because of the way the measure was brought to the floor against the wishes of the GOP majority. House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, who falls into this camp, said he had hoped to get more of his fellow Republicans on board and felt a responsibility to protect the House’s normal procedures and committee process. 

“I congratulate those who feel a gain and a benefit, but I cannot support the way that this was done, and I must vote no,” he said. 

Cook objected to this way of thinking, and urged his colleagues to vote on whether they support the policy. 

“That’s what we are voting on is the policy on the board, not the manner in which it got here, because if we were all 60 members, I’m sure we would run the place a little differently if we were king for a day, but we’re not,” he said. “We’re 60 people inside this building who do respect it, and 31 is the magic number … so I’m voting on the policy on the board.”  

A couple Republicans said they would support extending in-state tuition to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or people who were brought to this country as children in the past and enjoy federal protections from deportation, but that the measure would apply to more people than that, including people who cross illegally in the future. 

“It is taking a good intent to further a not-so-good intent,” said Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton. 

Other Republicans said they oppose the idea of providing a benefit to people who are in the country illegally. 

“Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them favored status for their trespass and invasion into America,” said Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction. 

Numerous Democrats spoke in favor of the measure, saying it would be good for the state and for the children who would now be able to receive an education, and broke into loud applause after the vote. Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, talked about how his own parents brought him across the Sonoran Desert to the U.S. when he was a toddler. 

“This country has allowed that 3-year-old little boy that left his home country to become a state representative in the great state of Arizona, and with this vote we are one step closer to providing that same opportunity to many of those children that only know the United States of America, that only hold that oath of loyalty to this country and no other country,” he said.