Appeals court grants in-state tuition to DACA students


José Cárdenas: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO HORIZONTE. THE ARIZONA COURT OF APPEALS OVERTURNS IN STATE TUITION FOR DACA STUDENTS.

SOT: YOU HEAR IT ON THE NEWS, AT SCHOOL, AND THAT IS WHAT INSPIRED ME WHEN I WROTE IT.

José Cárdenas: PLUS, MEET A KID RAPPER WITH AN ANTI BULLYING MESSAGE. AND IN SOUNDS OF CULTURA, A PHOENIX MURAL HIGHLIGHTS THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF LATINOS. ALL,THIS COMING UP STRAIGHT AHEAD ON "HORIZONTE".

Video: "HORIZONTE" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU!

José Cárdenas: THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. I'M JOSE CARDENAS. THE ARIZONA COURT OF APPEALS OVERTURNED A LOWER COURT RULING WHICH EXTENDED IN-STATE TUITION TO UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT STUDENTS WHO GAINED PROTECTION FROM DEPORTATION UNDER THE DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS PROGRAM KNOWN AS "DACA". THE RULING MEANS TUITION COULD MORE THAN DOUBLE THIS FALL FOR THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS WHO ARE PROTECTED UNDER "DACA"AND ENROLLED IN STATE UNIVIERSITIES AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS RULING IS KORINA IRIBE ROMO, WITH UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS FOR EDUCATION EQUITY OR "U-S-E-E". KORINA, WELCOME TO ARIZONA "HORIZONTE." OR WELCOME BACK. GIVE US A QUICK SUMMARY OF HOW WE GOT TO YESTERDAY'S DECISION.

Korina Iribe Romo: IT IS A LONG STORY BUT I WILL MAKE IT SHORT. THIS ALL STARTED WITH THE MARICOPA COUNTY COLLEGES DECIDING THEY WANTED TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND GRANT IN-STATE TUITION TO DACA RECIPIENTS. THIS WAS IMPLEMENTED IN 2013. THEY SAID DACA STUDENTS COULD PAY IN-STATE TUITION INSTEAD OF THE HIGHER RATE WE HAD BEEN CONTINUOUSLY, MYSELF INCLUDED, BEEN PAYING. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AT THE TIME, TOM HORN, DECIDED TO TAKE IT UPON HIMSELF TO SUE THE MARICOPA COLLEGES AND TAKE THEM TO COURT. MEANWHILE, THIS IS OCCURRING AND STUDENTS WERE STILL BEING ABLE TO HAVE IN-STATE TUITION RATES. WE GOT A DECISION FROM THE COURT FINALLY IN 2015 SAYING A LOWER COURT HERE IN ARIZONA SAID DACA STUDENTS WERE INDEED ELIGIBLE FOR IN-STATE TUITION BASED ON HAVING LAWFUL PRESENCE. AFTER THAT DECISION, WE WERE ABLE TO HARNESS ALL OF THE ADVOCACY AS THE COMMUNITY AND STUDENTS WERE DOING WHILE THIS LITIGATION WAS GOING ON OUT OF THE GATE AND THE HAVE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS FILE SUIT. IN 2015, IN-STATE TUITION WAS GUARANTEED AT THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE AND THE BOARD OF REGENTSIMENT IMPLEMENTED IT AT THE UNIVERSITIES.

José Cárdenas: THEY GOT SUED UP BUT OFFERING IN-STATE TUITIONS BUT THE UNIVERSITIES WERE NOT?

Korina Iribe Romo: THEY WERE NOT. SO WHILE THIS IS HAPPENING, STUDENTS WERE GATHERING AND ORGANIZING A CAMPAIGN CALLED IN-STATE FOR DACA WHICH I WAS ABLE TO BE ONE OF THE LEAD ORGANIZERS FOR AND REALLY PUSHING THE ARIZONA BORDER REGENTS TO TAKE THE SAME STEP AND GRAND IN-STATE TUITION. ONCE THE DECISION WAS MADE IN MAY OF 2015, THAT OPENED THE DOOR AND THE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS FOLLOWED SUIT AND GRANTED IN-STATE TUITION TO DACA RECIPIENTS.

José Cárdenas: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL APPEALED AND IT HAS BEEN IN THE COURTS A YEAR?

Korina Iribe Romo: A CURRENT ATTORNEY HAS THE AUTHORITY TO CONTINUE OR NOT CONTINUE THE CASE AND HE DECIDED TO APPEAL. IT WENT TO THE APPELLATE COURT. WE HEARD ARGUMENTS EARLIER THIS YEAR. AND THEN WE GOT A DECISION BACK. WE GOT A DECISION BACK YESTERDAY WHICH UNFORTUNATELY IT WAS TO OVERTURN THE INITIAL DECISION BY THE LOWER COURT. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THEY ARE OVERTURNING THE DECISION TO GRANT IN-STATE TUITION TO DACA RECIPIENTS AT THE MARICOPA COUNTY COLLEGE LEVEL BUT WE KNOW IT HAS MORE IMPLICATIONS AT OTHER INSTITUTIONS LIKE THE UNIVERSITIES AND OTHER SMALLER COMMUNITY COLLEGES THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN GRANTING IN-STATE TUITION BASED ON THE DECISION THAT CAME FROM THE CASE.

José Cárdenas: AND THE FOCUS WAS AN STATE LAW PROPOSITION 300 THAT SAID IN-STATE TUITION WAS NOT AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T HAVE LAWFUL IMMIGRATION STATUS. THE TRIAL COURT SAID THAT DACA STUDENTS DID HAVE LAWFUL PRESENCE WHICH BASICALLY THE SAME THING IN THAT COURT'S OPINION, THE COURT OF APPEALS DISAPPEARED. IS THIS A BIG SURPRISE?

Korina Iribe Romo: IT WAS. WHEN WE GOT THE 2015 DECISION IT WAS SUCH A HUGE VICTORY. ON BEHALF OF STUDENTS, WE HAVE A GREAT LEGAL TEAM BUT THE EFFORT PUT INTO MAKING SURE THIS CAME REALITY ALL THE STUDENTS, 24,000 DACA OR MORE STUDENTS IN ARIZONA, MANY OF WHICH ARE NOT ATTENDING THE UNIVERSITY. EVEN AT IN-STRAIGHT TUITION LEVELS IT IS START TO ATTEND.

José Cárdenas: YOU STILL DON'T GET FINANCIAL AID; RIGHT?

Korina Iribe Romo: RIGHT. EVEN WITH IN-STATE WHICH IS GREAT HELP IT HAS BEEN DIFFICULT TO GET STUDENTS IN THE UNIVERSITY. BY OVERTURNING THIS DECISION, WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE WE WILL GO BACK TO 0%. WE ARE .1% OF THE ENTIRE STUDENT BODY. .1% OF THE ENTIRE FOUR UNIVERSITIES.

José Cárdenas: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Korina Iribe Romo: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? THERE IS THE LEGALITY SUITS. AND THEN THERE IS THE ADVOCACY. ON THE LEGAL FRONT, THIS HASN'T BEEN IMPLEMENTED YET. WE GOT THE OPINION BACK BUT WE NEED TO SEE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. THE MARICOPA COUNTY COLLEGE BOARD HAS A DECISION TO MAKE. THEY CAN DECIDE TO ACCEPT THIS OPINION/DECISION OR THEY CAN DECIDE TO APPEAL AND CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE FOR STUDENTS AND PROTECT IN-STATE FOR DACA STUDENTS.

José Cárdenas: ASKING THE ARIZONA SUPREME COURT TO LOOK AT THIS?

Korina Iribe Romo: THEY ARE ASKING TO RECONSIDER AND TAKE A LOOK AT THIS BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE, THEY STRONGLY BELIEVE THEY ARE LAWFUL PRESENCE AND THE RIGHT TO HAVE IN-STATE TUITION.

José Cárdenas: WHEN WILL THEY TALK ABOUT IT.

Korina Iribe Romo: THEY HAVEN'T DECIDED YET. THAT IS WHERE THE ADVOCACY PORTION COMES IN. OUR STUDENTS ARE ORGANIZING BECAUSE WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THE BOARD HEARS WE APPRECIATE EVERYTHING THEY HAVE DONE AND WE WANT THEM TO CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE AND WE ARE WATCHING TO SEE WHAT DECISION MAKE. I BELIEVE THEY WILL BE MEETING NEXT WEEK SOMETIME. THERE IS IMPLICATIONS THAT IS WHEN THEY WILL BE DISCUSSING THIS. THAT IS SPECULATION. IN THE MEAN TIME WE WILL BE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO BRING OUR STORIES TO THE FOREFRONT AND REACH THE MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS SO THEY CAN HEAR FIRST HAND OUR STORIES AND SEE WHO WILL BE DIRECTLY AFFECTED IF THEY CHOSE NOT TO CONTINUE.

José Cárdenas: WHAT ARE YOU TELLING THE STUDENTS THEMSELVES ABOUT HOW THEY SHOULD HANDLE THINGS GOING FORWARD?

Korina Iribe Romo: FOR THE STUDENTS, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO KNOW AS OF TODAY, AT LEAST, THIS DECISION HAS NOT BEEN IMPLEMENTED. WE NEED TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT GOES TO THE LOWER COURT BUT WE WANT STUDENTS TO CONTINUE TO ENROLL AND GO TO CLASSES. DON'T DROP YOUR CLASSES. THE BEST TYPE OF RESISTANCE WE CAN HAVE TO CONTINUE TO GO TO SCHOOL. WE KNOW IT IS HARD AND IT CAN BE INTIMIDATING WITH ALL THESE TACTICS TRYING TO DETURE US. BUT KEEP YOUR HEAD HIGH AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT AS A COMMUNITY OF STUDENTS AND ADVOCATES. UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS FOR EDUCATION EQUITY IS COMMITTED TO CONTINUING THE FIGHT AND DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO ENSURE PROTECTION FOR THESE STUDENTS.

José Cárdenas: THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON "HORIZONTE". YOU ARE WATCHING HORIZONTE. COMING UP NEXT A BOY RAPPER WITH AN ANTI BULLYING MESSAGE.

The Arizona Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling which granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students under the DACA program. Korina Iribe Romo of Undocumented Students for Education Equity discusses the impacts of the decision and what immigrant activists plan to do next.

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Korina Iribe Romo: Undocumented Students for Education Equity

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