Schools still wrestling with citizenship issues
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2007

Josh Kelley
Latino community leaders in Mesa say parents and students are feeling frustrated and confused as university and college officials grapple with how to enforce Proposition 300, which requires undocumented immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition.

Voters approved the proposition in November, but the Arizona Board of Regents and community college administrators are still determining whether to screen students for legal residency or go by the honor system.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions," said Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, community liaison for Mesa Public Schools and Mesa Community College.
Students already have a heavy load their senior year when it comes to decisions about life after high school, Villanueva-Saucedo said.

"Then to add this confusion about what's going to happen with Proposition 300 - what doors are going to be closed to me now and how am I going to come up with the additional money to be able to apply - that's very worrisome for a lot of our families," she said.

Proposition 300 supporters said that undocumented residents who receive in-state tuition put a heavy financial burden on the entire education system. In-state tuition, they said, should be for legal students.

In addition to raising tuition, Proposition 300 prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving any type of financial assistance with state money, and requires schools to determine and report to the Legislature how many undocumented immigrants are attending their schools.

It's unclear how many Mesa students will be affected by the proposition or what the long-term impact on high school graduation rates will be.

David Luna, chair of the Latino Advisory Committee at MCC, said the proposition could discourage students from pursuing a high school degree or higher education, forcing them into a sub-class of low-wage workers.

A big priority for Mesa educators is to encourage students to attend college, said Luna, who is also director of Mesa Public Schools Educational Television.

"But if they know at the end of the day that there's no opportunity for them, how discouraged do you think they are," Luna said of students. "I mean I would feel terribly discouraged."