Arizona Board of Regents: Out-of-state students have no right to sue over DACA tuition
By Jennifer G. Hickey | June 22, 2018
Lawyers representing the Arizona Board of Regents recently argued in court filings that out-of-state students who paid full tuition at state universities have lack grounds to sue for refunds even though illegal aliens were awarded discounted rates.
The case stems from unanimous decision issued by the Arizona Supreme Court in April that affirmed a lower court ruling that the more than 2,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries in Arizona are not eligible for in-state tuition.
Since 2015, DACA participants have been receiving lower-cost tuition rates at Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.
In her arguments, the Regents' lawyer, Emma Cone-Roddy, conceded that illegal immigrants were unduly afforded a discounted tuition rate and that out-of-state students were overcharged, but claimed they have no legal right to sue for a refunds.
"The federal statutes plaintiffs rely on neither creates a legal right for them or any other out-of-state students, nor provides any private citizens with a cause of action," she argued.
While federal law prohibits states from offering postsecondary benefits to illegals, there exists a provision which says that if a state does provide illegals benefits, the same must be provided to U.S. citizens.
Lance Entrekin is seeking refunds for California resident Mikayla Foss and Michigan resident Abigail Garbarino, who were attending Arizona State University, and Eleanor Wiersma from Maryland, who was going to the University of Arizona.
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in 2017 that the benefits violated a 2006 voter-approved law barring benefits to illegal aliens, but the Board of Regents did not change its policy to reflect that decision. Only after the AZ Supreme Court weighed in did they bar special rates to illegal students.
The state Supreme Court issued a full opinion in April and there is no hearing date set for this lawsuit.