Arizona Business, Politics and Migrant Advocates Launch Campaign for Guaranteed Tuition in the State

Daisy Gonzalez-Perez

Cronkite News

A large group of political, business and immigration leaders gathered Wednesday to rally support for Proposition 308, the ballot initiative that would guarantee in-state tuition to any Arizona high school graduate. regardless of citizenship status.

With about 2,000 undocumented students graduating from Arizona high schools each year, supporters of the “Yes to 308” campaign said it was just “smart policy” to remove barriers to their education.

“Some people might disagree, so we’re also saying do the right thing from an economic standpoint for our state as well.” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of the Helios Education Foundation. “These educated students will further contribute to the success of our state.”

At least 22 states currently allow undocumented in-state residents to pay tuition at state colleges, but Arizona is not one of them. State residents voted overwhelmingly the other way in 2006, approving Proposition 300 by a margin of 71 to 29 percent.

This measure denied state college tuition, financial aid, and state-subsidized child care to anyone without legal status.

Proposition 308 gives voters a chance to backtrack this fall. If approved, it would allow anyone who graduates from an Arizona high school, after attending in-person for at least two years, to earn in-state tuition, regardless of student status. ‘immigration.

The initiative was approved by state lawmakers in 2021 with a handful of Republican votes. Because it was sent to voters as a ballot initiative, it was not vetoed by the governor.

The Yes on 308 coalition that was launched on Wednesday included business groups, civic leaders, education groups and elected officials from both parties.

Mesa Mayor John Giles said at the kickoff that it’s “very counter-intuitive to try to build our workforce, while putting up barriers for these great young Americans who are very looking forward to participating in this American dream”.

Giles, a Republican, said approving Proposition 308 would “remove unfair barriers that stand in the way of these children’s dreams.”

This theme was echoed by others at the event, who said investing in undocumented students would be investing in the future of the state.

“They are an asset, they have earned it and I think we should all support them and vote yes on Proposition 308,” said David Adame, president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa, of the beneficiaries of the deferred action for childbirth protection.

Adame said one in five DACA recipients try to get a higher education. He also bragged about the contribution of undocumented immigrants to the economy in the 10 years since DACA was enacted.

“They have contributed in their current jobs more than $25 million to Medicare and the Social Security system,” he said at the campaign launch.

Although it cannot grant in-state tuition to Dreamers, the Arizona Board of Regents has granted them a slight break on tuition from out-of-state students. . Undocumented residents who graduate from Arizona high school currently pay 150% of the going rate at one of the state’s three public universities.

That can still be high for undocumented students: Aliento, a DACA advocacy group, estimates that undocumented students in Arizona would pay about $16,500 a year in tuition, compared to more than $11,000 for undocumented students. other state students.

Luna said this means many students “due to their immigration status are forced to pay higher tuition fees, which for many are unaffordable.”

“We want to make sure these students have the ability to afford in-state tuition,” Luna said.

If approved by voters, Proposition 308 will go into effect next spring. Giles said it was the right thing to do.

“They were educated in our schools, raised in our churches, play on our children’s Little League teams and give back to our communities and help build our state’s economy in countless ways,” a- he declared.

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