August 28, 2017

Los Angeles, CA - A civil rights group is urging the Arizona Supreme Court to uphold a trial court’s ruling that allows a community college to charge young immigrants granted federal protection from deportation a lower in-state tuition rate.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed an appeal last week on behalf of two immigrants granted protection from deportation under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative (DACA). Both attend public colleges.

“DACA holders are a vital component of Arizona’s workforce and we pursue this appeal to force Arizona to treat is own students fairly,” said Victor Viramontes, national senior counsel at MALDEF. “Here, the State impedes access to its colleges and universities for some of the state’s most accomplished students by denying them access to in-state tuition rates, and we continue to pursue legal strategies to challenge these anti-immigrant policies.”

In 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson ruled that federal law, not state law, determines who is lawfully present. He concluded that DACA recipients were legally present and therefore qualified for in-state tuition. Two years later, however, a state appellate court overturned that decision, concluding that DACA did not confer lawful presence.

“It was truly extraordinary when the state of Arizona sued one of its own community college districts solely to take a spiteful shot at young immigrants,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “We ask the Arizona Supreme Court to restore some sanity here, and to stop the state of Arizona from punishing college students because of certain state leaders’ opposition to Obama administration immigration policies.”

MALDEF is asking the state high court to overturn the appeals court because the decision is “not only a fundamental misreading of federal law, but one that has wide-ranging and damaging implications with respect to the access to the higher education of Student-Intervenors and other DACA recipients.”

If the Arizona Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal, the state would be allowed to respond, and then the court could hold oral argument.

Read the motion for Arizona Supreme Court review here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund