DREAM Act supporters gather at Arizona Capitol to support in-state tuition for undocumented students

A big crowd visited the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday in a push to change an Arizona law that prevents young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from paying in-state tuition at state-run universities.

Back in 2021, the Arizona State Legislature approved SCR1044, a ballot referral that allows voters in 2022 to decide whether DREAMers should qualify for in-state tuition. Currently, undocumented students have to pay out-of-state tuition rates.

A few hundred students visited the capitol - some DREAMers, some not - to hold dozens of meetings with state lawmakers to thank them for helping put the ballot measure in front of voters in November this year.

If passed, undocumented students who have lived in Arizona for more than two years and graduated from a high school in the state can be eligible for the lowered tuition and state-funded scholarships.

A 2006 voter-approved law, Proposition 300, blocks any public benefits for people who are not legal residents or citizens. Residents enrolled in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were given in-state tuition until a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling said they do not qualify for cheaper tuition offered to legal residents.

"There’s not enough scholarship opportunities because, right now, DREAMers are shut out of in-state tuition and any scholarships that are funded by the state," said Aliento founder Renya Montoya.

Grand Canyon University student Daniela Chavira arrived in the U.S. at ten months old. " … Where am I going to get this money from? It was difficult to see my classmates not having this issue, but I was," she said.

Lizbeth Espinoza who studies at Arizona State is a U.S. citizen, not a DREAMer, but she’s seen how hard it can be on the students who are, like one of her good friends.

"I have the privilege of in-state tuition. I don’t have to hustle like her, and I realized I should be a voice for her," Espinoza said.

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