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Dreamers at ASU say Proposition 308 would expand access to higher education

The new proposition could grant Dreamer graduates from Arizona high schools in-state tuition at public state universities


A look at Prop. 308, a ballot initiative that would provide in-state tuition to all Arizona high school graduates regardless of immigration status.

Proposition 308, set to appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, would allow Arizona students in-state tuition rates regardless of immigration status. As voting season rapidly approaches, Aliento, a group that serves undocumented families and ASU students are taking action to spread information about the purpose of the proposition.

The Arizona House and Senate first passed the proposition in 2021 under the name SCR 1044. Students would be required to have attended a minimum of two years at an Arizona public or private high school, or a homeschooling equivalent.

"I remember the day we went to the capitol and once we heard the news we were so happy," said María García, a junior studying political science and transborder studies who is an undocumented student. "We had just been waiting for the name (of the proposition) to drop." 

The proposition would reverse Prop. 300. According to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, Prop. 300 prohibited undocumented Arizona high school graduates from paying in-state tuition.

"It would change lives," García said. "So many students just want to go to college."

Undocumented students can pay upwards of 150% of state tuition fees. For current high school Dreamers, the path to enrolling at a public state university involves a lot of private scholarships. 

Dreamers are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows them to attend school without worrying about deportation or legal action being taken against them.

"I wasn't really aware that I didn't have in-state tuition or eligibility for state-funded scholarships," García said. 

Many Dreamers require a policy change to have more accessibility for public universities. 

"(Prop. 308) would have changed everything. … One of the first questions that came up was 'Am I even going to be able to go to college?'" said Ángel Palazuelos, a junior studying biomedical engineering and an undocumented student.

A yes vote would move Prop. 308 into place but a no vote would mean retaining the current law on university and community college tuition. When Prop. 300 went into place in 2006, it was passed by 73% of Arizonans.

For Dreamers and first-generation American students, their families often came to this country looking for different opportunities. 

"For me, it's just important to (go to college) because I can and I'm representing my culture and family," said Vanessa Montes, a first-generation freshman studying medical studies. 

Advocates for Prop. 308 have made it clear that the potential passing of the proposition would have no impact on Arizona's General Fund, meaning no increase for Arizona taxpayers. 

"I hope people interpret it in a way where they are just helping students get to college. … DACA and undocumented students just want to get an education," García said.

Policies similar to Prop. 308 have already been put in place in 19 states across the country. According to Aliento's FAQ section, there is no evidence that undocumented immigration rates have increased in these states. 

"There's a lot of misconceptions and myths that roam around undocumented Dreamers," Palazuelos said. "I feel like there is no real issue here with this proposition. … It's the moral thing to do."

Edited by Reagan Priest, Wyatt Myskow, Sophia Balasubramanian and Piper Hansen.

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