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AZ Senate bill endorses in-state tuition for DACA students

SCRR 1044 now heads to House for debate. If approved, it could go before state voters in 2022.

Supporters of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students are hopeful that a Arizona Senate bill passed this week to allow DACA students to pay in-state tuition and qualify for financial aid at state universities and community colleges will eventually reach Arizona voters.

The bill, SCRR1044, still must pass the House but if it garners the 31 votes needed to pass there it could go before voters as early as 2022. It would give voters a chance to repeal a portion of a 2006 proposition that stripped DACA students of their right to pay in-state tuition rates and qualify for financial aid. Currently, DACA students pay 150 percent of in-state tuition rates.

The Senate resolution applies to DACA students who are graduates of an Arizona high school and have lived in the state for at least two years.

Aliento, a community organization that has advocated for the rights of DACA students, also known as DREAMERS, pointed out that about 2,000 Arizona DACA students graduate from high school every year, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

“We’re celebrating this as a huge step,” said José Patiño, Aliento’s director of education and external affairs. “It’s been 15 years since the current policy passed. This signals that Arizona is changing but we’re not all the way there. We have to stay grounded and realize there is a lot of work to do.”

Patiño said the bill received the support of the business community as well as other traditional DACA supporters. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Paul Boyer, a Republican, had to overcome some arguments that it did not go far enough to repeal all the provisions of the 2006 proposition.

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the great,” Boyer said during hearings in the Senate Education Committee on the bill.

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