Maricopa Community Colleges Defends DACA In-State Tuition At Arizona Surpreme Court

Published: Monday, April 2, 2018 - 12:26pm
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2018 - 8:02pm
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(Photo courtesy of Liz Zamudio)
Liz Zamudio is a DACA recipient who hopes she can continue paying in-state tuition in college.

Today the Arizona Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether or not DACA recipients should received in-state tuition when they attend an Arizona college or university.

Arguing that they are not legally eligible is state attorney general Mark Brnovich.

He told KJZZ in a statement: “My job is to uphold the law as it is, not as I want it to be. Nearly 70 percent of Arizona voters approved Proposition 300 which prohibits public benefits from going to those without lawful immigration status in our state. I can’t pick and choose which voter-approved laws I want to enforce. It's up to Congress now to act and provide DACA recipients with a legally sound and lasting solution.”

Mary O’Grady is an attorney with Osborn Maledon in Phoenix, and she’ll be representing the Maricopa County Community College District in the case. The district has continued to offer in-state tuition to DACA students, despite the passage of Proposition 300, and will argue that it should continue to be able to do so.

The Show's Lauren Gilger sat down with O'Grady recently at her offices to talk about the arguments she’ll be making in front of the Supreme Court today. And they started by talking about that — why do district officials think they have legal grounds for this in light of what voters decided in Proposition 300?

A ruling that DACA students are no longer eligible for in-state tuition would immediately affect the many who are already enrolled. One of those students is Liz Zamudio.

Zamudio has lived in Phoenix since then. She’s now 21 and attends Phoenix College, receiving in-state tuition thanks to her DACA status. The plan is to transfer to ASU starting next spring semester, to finish up a teaching degree in secondary education, also with in-state tuition. So many students follow the same path, but Zamudio is concerned her path has a major bump coming up if she loses the ability to pay in-state tuition.

It’s something her older brother had to do before the DACA program existed. She said he worked construction jobs during the day and took the classes he could afford, usually one class at a time. Eventually he was able to apply for DACA, and finish school more quickly thanks to the reduced cost. Zamudio said in her family, academic success was always important, even though her parents did not attend college.

And on Monday morning came another reminder of how uncertain the future of the entire DACA program is.

President Trump tweeted, “DACA is dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon... No longer works. Must build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation. Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!”

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

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