PCC may offer in-state tuition for Deferred Action illegal immigrants
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima Community College is thinking about offering a tuition break for some students in the United States illegally.
The students are a bit different from the average illegal immigrants. They would be safe from deportation while the Federal government decides if they can become legal residents.
PCC's talking about young people who are here illegally, but have reported themselves to the government for a special program called Deferred Action. They were so young when they came here, they didn't decide to enter illegally. Their parents made the call.
Under Deferred Action, they're protected from deportation while the government decides if they should be allowed to stay.
Now PCC is deciding whether they should pay in-state tuition while they're waiting to learn their fate.
In-state tuition is a big price break at most colleges. For PCC it's a little more than 60 dollars a credit hour, while the few students who pay out of state pay about five times more.
When we asked PCC students about the proposal to give that break to young people in the Deferred Action plan, it was an important distinction between someone brought here as a child, and someone who made their own decision to come here illegally.
Bradley Walling says, "If you're brought over here against your will as an infant you don't really have a choice with what's going on, but I do believe if you go through the right process, turn yourself in to the government, whatever, go through the process to get everything worked out legally, I think yeah, you should be able to go to school and get tuition at the same rate I'm getting. That's fine, but if you stepped over the border two days ago and you want to go to school here and get the same rate, I don't believe in that."
Ryan Hanson says: "If your parents bring you here illegally and you have no choice then I think you should be able to get tuition."
KGUN9 Reporter Craig Smith asked: "But that's a little different from somebody who might have just crossed the border, a year ago, a month ago?"
Hanson: "Yes. I don't necessarily agree with that."
The PCC board has not made a decision yet. That may come in a meeting late next month. To PCC Board Chair Dr. Brenda Even, considering a tuition break for students who may have been in this community for many years fits the mission of a community college.
She says, "Deferred Action for childhood arrivals---these must be individuals who have been here for a very long time so this is their community; and I think the idea of wanting to look at that as, don't we want to educate all of the people in our community if at all possible?"
As elected officials, PCC board members can decide the tuition issue without needing approval from state lawmakers or other authorities. The Maricopa Community College board has already approved in-state tuition for Deferred Action participants.
That Deferred Action program has been something the Obama Administration has done on it's own but a related proposal to offer legal residence, or a path to citizenship for young people brought to the U-S as children has been getting more discussion by both political parties as they consider immigration reform.