AZ Board Of Regents Facing Lawsuit Over DACA Tuition Decision

Published: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 1:19pm
Updated: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 2:45pm
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The chief architect behind Arizona’s strongest immigration laws has threatened to sue the Arizona Board of Regents for waiting to raise tuition for students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan.

An attorney with the conservative legal group Judicial Watch has joined forces with the author of Arizona's SB 1070 bill, former Senate President Russell Pearce.

The two want Attorney General Mark Brnovich to sue the Board of Regents. If he doesn’t in 60 days, they promised they will.

In a letter to the attorney general, obtained by Capitol Media Services, Pearce called the regents' decision to wait for a state supreme court ruling an open defiance of the law.

"It was an illegal Superior Court ruling by a liberal judge who decided the law doesn't matter,'' Pearce said.”You can't have a legal residency if you're not legally in this country.''

Citing the 2006 voter-approved law barring tuition breaks for anyone who does not have lawful immigration status, Pearce wants the attorney general to immediately bar the regents from allowing more than 2,000 DACA students from paying in-state tuition.

Regent board member Jay Heiler is an attorney and cast the sole dissenting vote on the decision last month.

"That's exactly what I was warning everyone else,'' he said, and noted telling his colleagues before they voted that ignoring the appellate court ruling carried a legal risk.

Heiler said he interpreted the 2006 law to mean Dreamers pay tuition at cost value with no tuition subsidies.

Pearce wants the law to mean DACA students pay out-of-state rates.

Brnovich has filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Community Colleges under a similar argument, but has yet to include the three public universities in that case.  

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

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