Arizona measure gives non-citizens in-state college tuition

Nov 14, 2022, 8:44 PM | Updated: Nov 15, 2022, 9:44 am

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters have approved an initiative to extend cheaper in-state college tuition to some non-citizen students, cheering supporters who hope the measure’s passage Monday will help spark momentum for wider immigration reform in Congress.

The Associated Press called the race for Proposition 308 after the latest round of vote releases gave it a big enough lead that the AP determined it could not lose. Arizona joins at least 18 other states, including California and Virginia, that offer in-state tuition to all students who otherwise qualify regardless of immigration status.

“This shows there is bipartisan broad consensus about immigration solutions,” Rebecca Shi, executive director of the national American Business Immigration Coalition Action, said earlier in the day, anticipating the proposition’s success.

The measure was referred to the ballot by Arizona’s Legislature and repeals some parts of an earlier initiative that banned in-state tuition for non-citizens. It will allow all students regardless of immigration status to pay in-state college rates as long as they attended Arizona high schools for two years and graduated.

Advocates say tens of thousands of future non-citizen students who have been in Arizona for years could potentially benefit from the proposition in a state where an estimated 275,000 migrants are living without authorization.

The measure will allow qualifying non-citizen students to pay the current in-state undergraduate tuition of $10,978 per academic year at Arizona’s state universities. Those universities do not have a specific rate for non-citizens brought to the U.S. as children, but officials say more than 300 students are currently paying a non-resident rate for Arizona high school graduates that is 150% of in-state costs.

Community college students will also benefit.

The vote is a turnaround from 2006, when Arizona voters rode a widespread wave of anti-immigrant sentiment to bar students who entered the U.S. without authorization from getting in-state tuition and other financial benefits, even if they lived here most of their lives.

Subsequent years saw other anti-immigrant measures.

The Arizona legislature in 2010 passed the so-called “show me your papers” law that allowed law enforcement officers to to check the immigration status of residents during routine stops. Denounced by activists as racial profiling, the law was partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court two years later.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who immigration advocates accused of racial profiling, was later elected out of office and found guilty of misdemeanor contempt of court for ignoring a 2011 court order to stop the patrols. Then-President Donald Trump in 2017 issued a presidential pardon for that conviction.

Although concerns about security along the U.S.-Mexico border remain high in Arizona, advocates say that attitudes have changed somewhat concerning young people brought to the U.S. by their families when they were small children.

Supporters said they now hope approval of the measure will encourage Congress to consider wider immigration reform.

“I’m proud of Arizona and how far we have come,” said Bob Worsely, a retired Republican state legislator and co-chair of the coalition that backed passage of Proposition 308.

Volunteers in recent months knocked on millions of doors and sent out millions of text messages to assure the measure’s passage.

Hazel Villatoro, who attended schools in Arizona her whole life after her parents brought her to the United States from Mexico when she was 1, said Proposition 308 will change her future.

“I will now be able to achieve my dream of becoming an anesthesiologist,” said Villatoro. “I want to thank the voters of Arizona for doing the right thing.”

Many Arizona business owners say it makes sense to make sure the brightest young people remain and seek jobs in the state, whatever their immigration status, especially with worker shortages in some sectors.

“Proposition 308 is not only the right thing, but also the smart thing,” said John Graham, president of Sunbelt Holdings, an Arizona real estate management, investment and development firm, and board chairman of the Arizona State University Foundation.

On other ballot initiatives, Arizona voters rejected one of the three referendums placed on the ballot by Republican state lawmakers that would limit the citizen’s initiative process. The defeated measure would have allowed the Legislature to make changes to voter-approved laws if one part of it was declared to be illegal.

Two others referendums changing the initiative process were called by the AP Monday night. One changes the threshold for tax increases in initiatives to a 60% vote, while the other limits them to a single subject.

Groups that back citizen initiatives say the changes will limit comprehensive measures. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry pushed for the limits after a series of initiatives passed, including a minimum wage increase and a tax on the wealthy to fund education that was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Arizona voters also approved a referendum creating a lieutenant governor office, but voted down a statewide sales tax increase for fire districts.


Associated Press writer Bob Christie contributed to this report from Phoenix.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

5 hours ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

1 day ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

1 day ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

2 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

4 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Arizona measure gives non-citizens in-state college tuition