Lawmaker wants to repeal entrant tuition curb
Capitol Media Services
Feb. 01, 2007
PHOENIX Some state legislators want to give Arizona voters a chance to reconsider at least part of a measure approved at the polls nearly three months ago denying certain services to those not here legally.
Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, said Proposition 300 passed and by a wide margin because it contained three different provisions. Lujan said he believes the measure carried because it stopped tax money from going to subsidized child care and adult education classes for illegal immigrants.
But Lujan said he believes a straight up-or-down vote on the third part denying resident community college and university tuition to those not here legally would result in a different outcome.
His measure, HCR 2029, would repeal that section of Proposition 300.
Lujan said the issue comes down to explaining to voters that the people affected are, from his perspective, innocent of any intentional violation of federal immigration laws.
"These are students who didn't have any choice whether they came to this country legally or not," he said. "They came with their parents."
Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, a key architect of many of the anti-immigrant measures approved last year by voters, said that while the children may not have crossed the border of their own volition, responsibility rests with "the parents who brought them here knowing there are consequences when you break our laws."
Pearce said Arizonans have "had enough."
"The only thing you can do to stop the invasion going on in this country is to cut off the benefits and to quit giving benefits and rewards to those who break their laws."
Pearce also rejected Lujan's contention that voters might reach a different conclusion if just the issue of tuition was on the ballot. He said there's no doubt voters knew about the provision thanks to a series of high profile demonstrations before the election.
Lujan conceded that the chances of getting the issue placed on the 2008 ballot by the Legislature remain slim: Republicans maintain control of both the House and Senate after last fall's election, albeit by smaller margins.
"It's going to be the state that pays in the long run," he said. "If we don't educate these students they're going to create a much greater burden on the taxpayers in the future."