PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling that said young immigrants granted deferred deportation status by the Obama administration were eligible for in-state college tuition.
The notice of appeal comes nearly two months after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson ruled that the Maricopa County Community College District could offer the lower rates. Days after the ruling, the Arizona Board of Regents said so-called DREAMers attending the state's three public universities were eligible for in-state tuition, citing Anderson's ruling.
Former Attorney General Tom Horne sued the community college district in 2013, contending that DREAMers were not legally present in the U.S and could not get state benefits because of a 2006 voter-enacted law known as Proposition 300.
"Today's appeal is not about immigration, it's about the rule of law and enforcing Arizona's voter protected statutes," Brnovich said in a statement.
Anderson's ruling said Proposition 300 doesn't bar public benefits for immigrants lawfully in the U.S., and the federal government considers recipients of deferred action lawfully present. Thus, he said, they can get lower in-state tuition.
The ruling only applied to Maricopa County Community Colleges and did not set statewide legal precedent. But an unsuccessful appeals court ruling could be cited statewide.
The community colleges district said enrollment dropped by more than 10,000 students when it implemented state rules on legal status required by Proposition 300, he said. Costs for those students who remained enrolled went up nearly four-fold.
Community college district officials could not be immediately reached for comment.