The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is warning the Arizona Board of Regents that the state universities may be at risk of “improper public expenditures” as a result of the board’s recent decision to continue giving in-state tuition rates to students known as “dreamers.”
Michael Bailey, chief of staff to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is asking the regents for an explanation by Aug. 10 of how the board’s position is not a violation of state law.
The move comes after the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in June that state law bars colleges from granting in-state tuition for students in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
DACA allows undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records, who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children, to ask for temporary protection from deportation and renewable two-year work permits.
The state sued Maricopa Community Colleges in 2013 after district officials allowed DACA students to pay in-state tuition rates, which are much lower than non-resident rates. A Maricopa County judge sided with the colleges in 2015. But that decision was recently reversed by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Maricopa Community Colleges are planning to file an appeal in August to ask the Arizona Supreme Court to review the case.
The regents are not a party to the lawsuit but relied on the lower-court ruling to begin giving DACA students in-state tuition rates in 2015.
Earlier this month, the regents voted to allow DACA students to continue to receive in-state tuition at Arizona’s three public universities while the appeal is considered.
Regents Vice Chairman Bill Ridenour said at the meeting the clarification is intended to give a sense of certainty, at least for the near-term, to DACA recipients who attend the state universities.
He added the Board of Regents plans to honor whatever decision the state Supreme Court makes on the appeal.
About 240 current DACA students at the state’s universities are receiving lower, in-state tuition rates. For example, the in-state rate for undergraduate students at ASU is $10,640 this year, compared with $26,470 for non-resident students. Maricopa Community Colleges is also continuing to charge DACA students the lower, in-state rate while the lawsuit is being appealed.
Regents President Eileen Klein said, in a statement, the board will reply to the attorney general’s recent letter “in a timely manner. We thank the Attorney General’s Office for the courtesy of providing us with this notice.”
The regents are facing possible legal action over their latest decision from Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group. The Washington, D.C.-based group is perhaps best known for its lawsuit related to Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The group sent a letter earlier this month to Brnovich, objecting to the regents’ “continuing open defiance of the law and controlling legal precedent.”
Judicial Watch wants the attorney general to initiate legal action against the regents within 60 days or the group said it will sue on behalf of a taxpayer, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce. Pearce was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s sweeping immigration-enforcement law that received national attention.
Reporter Ricardo Cano contributed to this article.
More than 780,000 DREAMers have been allowed to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created under President Obama. Many worry about their future under President Trump.
1 of 8
DACA recipient Gerson Gonzalez came to the United States illegally when he was 15 years old to live with his father. Ten years later, he is still seeking a path to citizenship. Cheryl Evans/azcentral.com
2 of 8
A quick lesson on Or Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
3 of 8
Federal agents deported 23-year-old DREAMer, Juan Manuel Montes. He is the first protected immigrant to be deported back to Mexico.
4 of 8
Belen Sisa is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient who posted on Facebook that she paid her taxes. Now people are reporting her to be deported.
5 of 8
Attorneys for Ramirez argue the arrest violates his constitutional rights.
6 of 8
Lawmakers fear Trump could use the information Dreamers provide on their DACA applications to deport them.
Video provided by Newsy
7 of 8
Young conservative Drew Sexton and a DREAMer Belen Sisa debate immigration.
8 of 8
How DREAMers get to stay in U.S.
Seeking a path to citizenship
Video: What is DACA? Or Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals
First protected DREAMer deported under Trump
Arizona ‘dreamer’ Belen Sisa at the Democratic National Convention
Mexican immigrant ‘dreamer’ in Seattle sues US over arrest
Mayors want Trump to keep DACA and protect Dreamers
A young conservative and a DREAMer debate immigration
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2v2eN5i