Community colleges to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants

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Community colleges to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants

CREATED Sep 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 19, 2012

Reporter: Alexis Fernandez

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In January, Maricopa Community Colleges will offer in-state tuition to students who are granted work permits under President Barack Obama's deferred action program.

“We spent a considerable amount of time having serious discussions about this, both the Obama administration policy change and what the law required of us, and this was the conclusion we reached,” said Tom Gariepy, director of Marketing and Communications at Maricopa Community Colleges.

He said the federally issued work permits are already on a state-approved list of documents accepted as proof of residency.

We asked Maricopa County how they're getting around the Proposition 300 laws that require an immigration check before you can be eligible for in-state tuition.

”Our reading of the state law is that one of the documents that we have to accept, we have been accepting prior to the change in the Obama administration policy, and that we have to accept unless the law is changed,” he said.

In Tucson, Pima Community College students like Gloria Valadez, 23, an undocumented immigrant, wonder if her school will follow suit.

Valadez said she stopped taking classes after it got too expensive to pay out-of-state tuition.

“These students are from the United States, they consider themselves American, follow the law, the rules, it's their home, all we want is to have an education like everyone else,” she said.

Pima Community College declined an on-camera interview but did release the following statement:

"This issue is very complex. It involves state and federal law, as well as the long-standing desire of Pima Community College to 'provide access to learning without the limits of time, place or distance.' Our goal is to comply with the law and remain true to our mission. We are reviewing the best way to achieve that."

PCC said it aims to determine by January if temporary work permits can help students attain in-state tuition.