Bipartisan Repeal of In-State Tuition Ban for Dreamers To Go Before Voters in 2022

Two Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives led bipartisan effort to give voters choice to allow Dreamers to pay in-state college tuition 

PHOENIX, ARIZONA — In a bipartisan effort led by Republican Reps. Michelle Udall and Joel John, the Arizona House of Representatives voted today 33 to 27 to put forward a ballot initiative that would provide standard, in-state college tuition to all students who attend and graduate from an Arizona high school, regardless of immigration status.

The ballot initiative would repeal a 15-year-old ban on in-state tuition for undocumented high school graduates, including about 2,000 Dreamers per year. Since 2006, students without documents have been forced to pay out-of-state tuition rates, effectively depriving them of a college education and limiting their contribution to Arizona’s economy. 

Senators and House members will join education, business, faith, and civic leaders in a press conference to discuss passage of the bill on Monday, May 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rose Garden at the Arizona State Capitol complex, 1700 W Washington St.

Below are initial reactions to the bill’s passing:

Bob Worsley, co-chair of the Intermountain chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition, said: “We are grateful that representatives from both parties, including Reps. Michelle Udall, Joel John, David Cook and every Democrat who supported this came together to do what’s right for students and businesses across the state. The passage of this bill is economically important, morally right and politically smart.”

Reyna Montoya, founder & CEO of Aliento and DACA recipient, said: “This is a historic day in Arizona. I’m in tears of joy and have a deep sense of gratitude for all the house of representatives who voted yes today. Thank you for believing in our dreamers, improving our state’s education and economy. Today is a bright day and I am 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.” 

Dallin Adams, ABIC’s Intermountain Coalition Director, said: “I am incredibly grateful for all of the representatives who supported our efforts, as well as the countless business, faith, and education leaders that worked tirelessly on behalf of our Arizona Dreamers. The impact of increased educational attainment on future economic growth can not be understated. Arizona’s voters deserve to have their voices heard, and I am confident they will stand in support of our students, businesses, and state.”

Deya Garcia, Mesa Community College student and DACA recipient, said: “In 2017, when in-state tuition for DACA students was going through the courts I was devastated. I wondered, ‘why would anyone want to make education less attainable?’ Since then, I have gone from being a full-time student to a part-time student which has prolonged my college journey. This year would have been my graduation year. SCR 1044 will allow me to become a full-time student and be on track to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor.”  

Denny Barney, former Maricopa County Supervisor, and current CEO of East Valley Partnership, said: “The children of ‘Dreamer’ kids are U.S. citizens, and they will be in our community. What path will we put these families on? The college-educated tend to assimilate and contribute. They develop a culture of self reliance. Their children will follow. Enabling these students to attend college is wise social policy.”

BACKGROUND

The passage of the bill follows the publication of a letter signed by more than 130 business, faith and civic leaders urging the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Russell “Rusty” Bowers, to bring SCR 1044 to the floor. You can read the letter here. Last weekend, the Arizona Republic published an editorial calling on Bowers to let voters decide whether Dreamers should pay in-state tuition. “What’s the harm in that?” the editorial asked. It followed other editorials published in the last few days in support of Dreamers including one from Garrick Taylor, interim president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, published in the Arizona Daily Star, and Denny Barney, president and CEO of PHX East Valley Partnership, a nonprofit that advocates for the needs and interests of the East Valley, who co-authored an op ed in the Arizona Republic with Sintra Hoffman, president and CEO of WESTMARC.

This legislation was introduced on February 1, 2021 by Republican State Sen. Paul Boyer (R. LD20) and is co-sponsored by Representative Michelle Udall (R. LD25). This legislation enables these students to pay their own way through college at the in-state tuition rate, preparing themselves to be self-sufficient, productive, contributors to our economy. For every college graduate earning a four-year university degree, the state averages a $660,000 return on its investment (College Success Arizona). 

Thanks to Aliento, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education & Immigration, Dream.us, Local First AZ, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Unite Here!, UnidosUS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their partnership and leadership.

ABOUT

The Intermountain American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) represents a growing group of business, faith, and immigrant advocates from Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. Home to over 2 million immigrants, our Intermountain region benefits by almost $100 billion annually from the economic contributions and talents of these individuals, and we believe that with the right legislative solutions, they will continue to play a key role in our economy and our region’s future. 

ALIENTO is a nonprofit leadership organization based in Arizona with a national reach that transforms trauma into hope and action with the dreamers, immigrant community, and allies through arts & healing programs, leadership development opportunities, and advocacy.  

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