People who have immigrated to Arizona and are waiting for their documents are lawful residents of the state and thus can attend colleges and pay in-state tuition, ruled a judge. The ruling may be connected to President Barack Obama's program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which aims at legalizing the stay of immigrants who came to the United States as children.
According to a Phoenix immigrant rights activist and DACA recipient Erika Andiola, the ruling is very exciting because it proves that immigrants are on the „right side of the law.“ It remains to be seen whether the path will be followed by the Arizona Board of Regents when it comes to state's universities.
“The Arizona Board of Regents is committed to broadening access and affordability for all students in Arizona and, as part of that mission, supports lawful opportunities to increase access for DACA students,” Eileen Klein, the board’s president, said in a statement after the ruling was announced. “We are currently reviewing the court’s decision. As we do with all board policies, we will comply fully with state and federal law.”
Maricopa County Community College District was sued by an attorney general in 2013 who claimed that charging DACA students with in-state tuition is against a 2006 law that prohibits illegal immigrants to receive the in-state price. This price is considerably cheaper than the out-of-state tuition. However, the judge said that the manner in which a person entered the United States did not determine their lawful presence.