Arizona court overturns in-state tuition for illegals


The Arizona Court of Appeals struck a blow for Arizona taxpayers, ruling they will no longer be forced to subsidize the tuition costs of illegal immigrants.

“Dreamers” are not in this country legally and not entitled to in-state tuition, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled today.

In a unanimous decision, the judges rejected the arguments by attorneys for the Maricopa County Community College District that their legal status under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program means the federal government considers them to be legally present in the country. Based on that, the college in 2015 said they no longer had to pay non-resident tuition.

But Judge Kenton Jones, writing for the court, said that’s not the case.

He said DACA, instituted in 2012 by the Obama administration, simply protects those in the program from being deported. And DACA status also allows them to work legally while they are here.

“These benefits do not translate into the recipients’ eligibility for in-state tuition or other state and local public benefits,” Jones wrote. (

The ruling extends beyond Arizona’s community colleges, and will affect tuition costs for illegals at the state’s three public universities.

Arizona Central reports that the in-state tuition rate at Arizona State University is $10,640, while the cost for non-residents is $26,470. The effect of Tuesday’s ruling means that Arizona taxpayers will no longer bear the burden of the $15,830 difference for each illegal enrolled at ASU. For the more widely attended community colleges, the in-state rate is $86 per credit, compared to a $241 rate for non-residents.

In 2006, Arizonans passed Proposition 300, which explicitly stated:

A person who is not a citizen of the United States, who is without lawful immigration status and who is enrolled as a student at any university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents or at any community college under the jurisdiction of a community college district in this state is not enentitled to tuition waivers, fee waivers, grants, scholarship assistance, financial aid, tuiition assistance or any other type of financial assistance thiat is subsidized or paid in whole or part with state monies.

In 2013, the Maricopa Community College District unilaterally decided to ignore the legal requirements o Proposition 300, and began to apply the in-state tuition rate to students who were in the country illegally. The Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the college district for violating state law.

In 2015, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled the Arizona law doesn’t bar benefits to immigrants lawfully in the country, and that under federal law, the DACA students are lawfully present.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned that 2015 decision:

The court ruled that a judge’s 2015 decision that young immigrants known as “dreamers” were considered legally present in the U.S. and therefore qualify for state benefits was incorrect.

Presiding Judge Kenton Jones wrote that the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, did not confer that status. (Arizona Central)

The Maricopa Community College District retains the option of seeking review of the Appeals Court verdict by advancing the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.


* feature photo: DACA students protest outside the Arizona Court of Appeals



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