By Laine Alexander
The campaign to give DREAMers in-state tuition has begun again. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act was introduced in 2001 and has since then, repeatedly failed to pass.
Arizona State Legislature voted earlier this year, to ask voters in November 2022 if they want to partially repeal a 2006 ballot measure that banned immigrants living here illegally, from benefiting from in-state tuition rates. If it is passed by voters, DREAMer who are living in Arizona illegally could pay in-state tuition rates if they graduated from high school and attended school within Arizona.
Some Republican voters and lawmakers have voiced their support in the campaign over the last few months, however, there is still exist a large opposition. “Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them a favored status for their trespass and invasion into America,” said John Fillmore, an Apache Junction Republican, on the House floor on May 10, 2021.
Additionally, the rebuttal from the opposition that is arguably difficult to overlook is the cost effect it will have on taxpayers. Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, explained the effect it will have on taxpayers. He stated, “On average, each illegal immigrant who attends a public institution will receive a tuition subsidy from taxpayers of nearly $6,000 for each year he or she attends, for a total cost of $6.2 billion a year, not including other forms of financial assistance they may also receive.”
However, every year, about 2,000 undocumented students graduate from Arizona high schools. When looking into attending a community college or a university, they are faced with tuition rates that are as much as three times higher than their classmates who are legal citizens. The Become Arizona PAC is a recently formed a political action committee, with the purpose of advocating for tuition equality for DREAMers fulfilling certain educational requirements.
The Dream Act has great intention and could provide hope and opportunity to many students who never had a say in how or where they grew up. DREAMers who show ingenuity, passion, and endless determination are unable to afford an education, simply because they were born into an unfortunate position.
The opposition also believes the Dream Act will be sending a bad message, rewarding those who came here illegally. However, the possibility that DREAMers could be future scientists, architects, or engineers to one day bring about change or advancement for the betterment of our society… it’s that what we all strive for?
While a majority of the Dreamers Act naysayers make well-grounded points and there are still many questions to be answered remaining the details of its passing – the DREAMers have my vote. Education is a gift. It is selfish to make it unaffordable and out of reach to students with pure intentions and big dreams, who had no control over the legality of their being here.