The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
In what is considered one of the most important milestones for DREAMers in Arizona and across the nation, the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition will be celebrating Monday, January the 7th the return of immigrant youth, DACA grantees, to Maricopa County Community Colleges (MCCCD) with In-State-Tuition.
This situation comes as a reversal of bad policy on the immigration-education landscape of Arizona and it is a sign of hope for the economic future in the State and the nation, thanks to DACA.
After the passage of prop.300 and implementation of anti-education, anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, the enrollment of undocumented immigrant youth, DREAMers, to higher education institutions collapsed. There was no ban in place but the cost of education, which tripled by out-of-state fees, was put out of the reach of immigrant families.
With the announcement by president Obama on June 15th granting Deferred Action for persons who arrived as children to the USA (DACA), a door was open for those who apply for this process, get a work permit, to request In-State-Tuition at Maricopa Community Colleges.
Maricopa Community Colleges is the largest Community Colleges System in the nation.
Since 2007, when Arizona’s Prop 300 took effect and the state began to keep track of undocumented students, it has come evident the number of undocumented students attending state’s universities and community colleges has fallen dramatically. Read this article by journalist Griselda Nevarez. 1,524 students who were attending one of the three public universities in 2007 were not able to prove a legal status. The number of students in this situation had dropped to 13 by the spring 2012 semester.
There were 1,470 students who couldn’t prove a legal status and were attending the state’s community colleges in spring 2007. By 2012 that number had dropped to 882. Most of these students were only taking one or two classes at a time.
“In the past years we saw a collapse participation of immigrant youth population in community colleges and Universities, in spite of the talent dreamers had demonstrated when they graduate from high schools, being top of the class and valedictorians. It is an absolute waste of human resources and talent”, said Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. “We are not seeking special treatment; we are only striving for a leveled plain field. We are taxpayers too and we support education through our taxes, some of us for decades”, said Matuz.
To be granted In-State-Tuition at MCCCD is necessary for the DACA grantees to present the work authorization card (I-766) and another document that demonstrates their residence in Maricopa County. This is the set of documents that may be presented (scroll down to County Residency).
The move from MCCCD granting In-State-tuitions came, in great part, to the pressure dreamers and advocates had put to MCCCD when all venues for affordable education were closed during the spring of 2011. Dreamers had been able to access classes with in-state-tuition when taking one or two classes due to a special administrative classification in place for many years back. ADAC members protested MCCCD and held many private meetings into the reasoning behind closing the last administrative venue for affordable tuition. Read this article on the series of protests.
So far in State-Tuition in Arizona is only attainable at Maricopa County Community Colleges District (MCCCD). We advocates are encouraging Arizona Board of Regents and other Community Colleges in Arizona to find legal tools and grant IST to DACA grantees.