Supreme Court rules DACA recipients no longer eligible for in-state tuition

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Arizona students participating in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, are no longer eligible for in-state tuition due to a Supreme Court ruling last month.

DACA recipients such as Maricopa County Community College District student Lizette Zamudio were given lawful status but not legal status. Due to their status, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against them receiving in-state tuition.

Matt Hasson, director of communications for MCCCD, says a student taking 30 credits will pay an in-state tuition of roughly $2,500. A student being charged the out-of-state cost will pay about $9,800 for the same number of credits.

“It was something that we’ve heard prior to this administration, the threats of DACA being removed …” Zamudio says. “When it finally happened it wasn’t a surprise. It was still upsetting because we had this two-year plan and now we have to plan again because we’re going to have to pay three times more than an in-state student.”

DREAMzone is a resource at Arizona State University for undocumented and DACA students. One of the organization’s founders, Edder Diaz-Martinez, says DREAMzone was created to help raise money and provide information that may help students and educators.

“Our hope is that we have enough money to fund the gap that has been created because of the recent decision,” Diaz-Martinez says. “We want to make sure a permanent solution is made nationally. Ultimately the best remedy for all of this is having a permanent solution for DACA recipients. It might be difficult but that’s what’s going to solve this issue once and for all.”

Zamudio says it’s been difficult trying to work toward a life goal when the status of DACA recipients are constantly changing. She says she’s unable to plan over two years ahead, and it can become discouraging when nothing feels permanent.

“Why would I be paying out-of-state tuition to something I’ve given everything to and a place I call home?” Zamudio says. “If I go back to my home country, I couldn’t tell you how to get anywhere. I don’t know my home country because at the age of five I was brought here.”

Hasson agrees that the uncertainty among DACA students is going to discourage them from even going to school. He says it’s important that they stay since 89 percent of MCCCD graduates stay in the area which helps boost the local and state economy.

TED SIMONS: ARIZONA STUDENTS PROTECTED UNDER THE DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVES PROGRAM, OR DACA ARE NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR IN-STATE COLLEGE TUITION. THIS AFTER A SUPREME COURT RULING LAST MONTH. VANESSA RUIZ HAS MORE ON WHAT IS NEXT FOR THESE DACA STUDENTS.

VANESSA RUIZ: TED, THAT RULING AFFECTS MORE THAN 2,000 STUDENTS CURRENTLY ENROLLED IN ARIZONA'S COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND THREE PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES. EDUCATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS WOMAN'S PASSION. FIRST AS A STUDENT AND NOW AS AN ASPIRING EDUCATOR. EARLIER THIS SEMESTER, THE ARIZONA SUPREME COURT MADE DECISION THAT CHANGED HER LIFE. THEY HAVE BEEN GRANTED LAWFUL STATUS, BUT NOT LEGAL STATUS, AND THEREFORE DO NOT QUALIFY TO PAY RESIDENT RATES.

LIZETTE ZAMUDIO: I WAS VERY UPSET WHEN I FIRST HEARD THE RULING, BUT I WASN'T SURPRISED. I WAS SOMETHING WE HAD HEARD PRIOR TO THIS ADMINISTRATION, THE THREATS OF DACA – INSTATE TUITION BEING REMOVED, DRIVER'S LICENSES, EVERYTHING. SO WHEN IT FINALLY HAPPENED, IT WASN'T A SURPRISE. BUT IT WAS STILL UP SETTING BECAUSE AGAIN, WE HAD THIS TWO-YEAR PLAN, NOW WE HAVE TO PLAN AGAIN. BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY THREE TIMES MORE THAN TUITION.

VANESSA RUIZ: THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES SAYS THAT TUITION INCREASE IS SIGNIFICANT.

MATT HASSON: SO RIGHT NOW A STUDENT THAT TAKES 30 CREDIT HOURS PAYS ROUGHLY $2,580 FOR THOSE CREDITS. NOW THEY ARE GOING TO BE LOOKING TO PAY $9,800 FOR THOSE SAME CLASSES. SO THAT'S A PRETTY SIGNIFICANT IMPACT, AS THEY ARE CHASING THEIR DREAMS.

VANESSA RUIZ: THOSE DREAMS ARE PRIORITY FOR THIS PERSON, WHO WORKS FOR DREAM ZONE, AN ORGANIZATION THAT WORKS SUPPORTING DREAMERS IN PURSUIT OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

EDDER DIAZ-MARTINEZ: OBVIOUSLY IT'S SUPER IMPORTANT, BECAUSE YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE THESE STUDENTS HAVE NO BREAKS IN THEIR EDUCATION. IF YOU HAVE A HUGE DISRUPTION IN YOUR EDUCATION, NOT ONLY DOES IT DISCOURAGE YOU FROM NOT CONTINUING TO GO TO SCHOOL – I MEAN IT JUST PREVENTS A LOT OF FUTURE EDUCATORS, FUTURE SCIENTISTS, RESEARCHERS, INNOVATORS, A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE FROM FINISHING THEIR EDUCATION AND CONTINUING TO TRIBUTE TO SOCIETY.

LIZETTE ZAMUDIO: IT'S REALLY DIFFICULT TO PLAN LIKE A LIFE GOAL. I ALWAYS DIFFICULTIES -- WHEN WE HAVE CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES LIKE THAT, I ALWAYS TRY TO EXPLAIN TO MY -- TO MY TEACHER -- LIKE I CAN'T PLAN OVER TWO YEARS, BECAUSE OF THIS. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN THE NEXT DAY. AND IF I MAKE A LIFE GOAL LIKE I HAVE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST 17 YEARS, IT'S KIND OF DISCOURAGING.

VANESSA RUIZ: THE CHALLENGE IS NOW MORE IN THE UNCERTAINTY.

EDDER DIAZ-MARTINEZ: SO OUR HOPE IS THAT WE HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO FUND THE GAP THAT HAS BEEN CREATED BECAUSE OF THE RECENT DECISION. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT A PERMANENT SOLUTION IS MADE NATIONALLY. BECAUSE ULTIMATELY, THE BEST REMEDY FOR ALL OF THIS IS HAVING A PERMANENT SOLUTION FOR DACA RECIPIENTS. AND THAT'S -- YOU KNOW, IT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT, BUT, YOU KNOW, THAT'S -- THAT'S WHAT IS GOING TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE ONCE AND FOR ALL.

VANESSA RUIZ: THE INCREASE IN TUITION HAS FORCED THESE AND OTHER STUDENTS TO LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO FUND THEIR EDUCATION.

LIZETTE ZAMUDIO: WE HAVE A FAMILY FRIEND WHO SELLS BRACELETS TO GET THROUGH COLLEGE. AND MY COMMUNITY HAS BEEN SHOWING UP WITH THEIR SUPPORT AND GETTING TOGETHER AND CREATING DIFFERENT WAYS TO SUPPORT OUR DREAMS AND GET US THROUGH COLLEGE, YOU KNOW, BY -- YOU KNOW, SETTING UP A GOFUNDME ACCOUNT, DINNERS, WHATEVER IT IS, AND IF THAT'S WHAT I HAVE TO GO THROUGH, AGAIN, THEN DEFINITELY.

VANESSA RUIZ: OFFICIALS ARE MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGES WANT TO FIND RESOURCES FOR THESE STUDENTS, AS THEY BELIEVE THAT INVESTMENT WILL ULTIMATELY HELP THE COMMUNITY.

MATT HASSON: 89% OF ALL STUDENTS STAY IN MARICOPA AFTER THEY COMPLETE THEIR DEGREES, AND THAT'S GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY. IT'S GOOD FOR THESE FOLKS TO GET HIGHER-PAYING JOBS

LIZETTE ZAMUDIO: WHY WOULD I BE PAYING OUT OF STATE TUITION FOR SOMETHING I HAVE GIVEN EVERYTHING TO AND A PLACE I CALL HOME. IF I GO BACK TO MY HOME COUNTRY, I COULDN'T TELL YOU HOW TO GET ANYWHERE, BECAUSE AT THE AGE OF FIVE I WAS BROUGHT HERE IN SEARCH FOR A BETTER LIFE, AND BETTER EDUCATION, AND I THINK I DESERVE IT. I DESERVE IT JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE.

VANESSA RUIZ: SHE HOPES TO TRANSFER TO ASU THIS FALL. FOR NOW ASU'S ADMINISTRATION SAYS IT IS CONTINUING TO PROVIDE THE DACA COMMUNITY WITH THE RESOURCES THEY NEED.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU, VANESSA. WEDNESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" HEAR ABOUT AN ORGANIZATION THAT HELPS KIDS UNDERGOING CHEMO THERAPY. AND THE TREATMENT OF SKIN CANCER INCLUDING THE USE OFNANO ROBOTS. THAT'S "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Lizette Zamudio: Dreamer
Matt Hasson: Director of Communications, Maricopa Community College
Edder Diaz-Martinez: DREAMZONE

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