DACA students are ‘beneficiaries’ of federal program, not genuine citizens, court holds.
In a blow to immigration advocates and activists, an Arizona court has ruled that illegal immigrants do not have official legal status within that state and are thus ineligible for in-state tuition.
The Arizona Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling that held that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students—also known as DACA students or DREAMers—were eligible to pay the same rates as students in-state, according to The Daily Wildcat.
“[DACA students],” the court held, “are more aptly described as beneficiaries of an executive branch policy designed to forego deportation of those who lacked unlawful intent in entering the country,” rather than actual legal residents of any one state.
For the time being, the ruling only affects institutions within the Maricopa County Community College District. The nature of the decision, however, may apply to all public universities in the state.
The [overturned] 2015 case was the result of then-Attorney General Tom Horne suing Maricopa County Community College District after its board of governors voted to allow DACA recipients to receive in-state tuition.
That MCCCD vote came after President Obama signed the executive order in 2012 creating DACA. Under DACA, some children of undocumented migrants qualify to receive work permits and, in some states such as Arizona, driver’s licenses.
Technically, the appeals court ruling affects only MCCCD colleges. However, all three state universities could be affected. The Arizona Board of Regents, which determines tuition rates, ruled DACA students eligible to receive in-state tuition in 2015.
As such, UA leadership does not yet have an official statement in response to the new ruling.
Eileen Klein, Regents president, released a statement in response: “If [Tuesday’s] decision stands, DACA students will no longer qualify for in-state tuition at Arizona’s public universities.”
Following the ruling, University of Arizona president Matt Lubisich declared: “We are going to keep fighting for [undocumented students]. They are students like anyone else, and we will fight this fight together.”