Arizona Voters to Consider In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens in 2022
FAIR Take | May 2021
A coalition of big-business Republicans and open-borders Democrats in the Arizona Legislature have managed to force through a bill that puts in-state college tuition for illegal aliens on the 2022 ballot for Arizonans to decide. Voters in the state previously banned in-state tuition along with other taxpayer-funded public benefits for illegal aliens when they approved Proposition 300 in 2006.
Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1044, sponsored by Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale), was introduced on February 1. It legislatively refers placing in-state tuition on the ballot for 2022. If a majority of the voters approve it, in-state tuition rates would be authorized for anyone including illegal aliens who have lived in Arizona for at least two years and graduated from a state high school, the GED equivalent or home school. In-state tuition in Arizona averages approximately $12,000 a year while the out-of-state rates can be upwards of $36,000.
SCR 1044 passed the Senate on March 4 by a vote of 17-13 with three Republicans, Boyer, Tyler Pace (R-Mesa) and T.J. Shope (R-Casa Grande)) joining all the Democrats in support. It initially stalled for two months in the House. But a small number of Republicans used a procedural maneuver against their party’s leadership to force a floor vote. On May 10, it passed the House 33-27, with four Republicans, Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), Joel John (R-Buckeye), David Cook (R-Globe) and Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear), joining all the Democrats to vote yes.
Most Republican legislators opposed the measure in debate. Several noted that voters had overwhelmingly spoken, since 71 percent approved banning in-state tuition with the passage of Prop 300. Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) described SCR 1044 as “misguided, unfortunate, unneeded and is actually detrimental to the welfare of my county,” adding, “Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them favored status for their trespass and invasion into America.”
Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) pointed out the unfairness of discriminating against out-of-state American citizens and legal immigrants, as well as the cost, asking “[s]hould the taxpayers in Arizona be forced to subsidize 24,000 dollars for people who didn’t follow the rules?” He estimated the “price tag could run into “potentially hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years to subsidize the cost of college for people who aren’t even American citizens.”
Under Arizona’s state constitution, resolutions like SCR 1044 that legislatively place questions on the ballot are not subject to veto, therefore it bypasses Governor Doug Ducey (R).
Many media outlets referred to the resolution’s ballot question as authorizing in-state tuition for “Dreamers,” commonly understood as recipients of President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and others who entered the U.S. illegally as children. While that would have been bad enough, SCR 1044 is not limited to DACA recipients alone. It covers all illegal aliens. Some Republican legislators who opposed the resolution said if it was limited to DACA recipients they would have supported it.
Ironically, this resolution comes at a time when there has been significant national pushback against providing benefits to illegal aliens. Lawmakers in America’s second-and third-most populous states, Texas and Florida, introduced bills to repeal in-state tuition for illegal aliens. While these bills did not advance this legislative session, it does lay the groundwork for future sessions. Florida State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) calls in-state tuition “a sweetheart deal.”
Arizonans who oppose giving benefits to illegal aliens must oppose the measure in 2022.