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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Prop. 300 to make limited impact at UA

    What happens now?

    The question has been on the minds of UA administrators concerned about the possible impact of two ballot propositions that target illegal immigrants and non-English speakers.

    But state lawmakers said not to worry; the UA will not see many changes.

    Proposition 300 denies illegal immigrants any publicly subsidized funds from the state of Arizona, including eligibility for resident tuition at the UA. Voters approved it by a more than 2-1 margin.

    Proposition 300 mandates that students must be legal residents of Arizona in order to receive in-state tuition. It extends to recent immigrants and to those students who, though they spent most of their lives in Arizona and have graduated from the public school system, are still not legal residents.

    Paul Kohn, an assistant vice president of admissions and financial aid, said his office is still waiting for directions from the attorney general about how to comply with the new law.

    This debate should not be about who you are, where you came from or what you believe in. This debate should only be about how you got here.

    – Sen. Dean Martin, R-Mesa, sponsor of Proposition 300

    If the attorney general says the UA Admissions Office has to look for illegal immigrants by doing a complete check of all current students as well as all applicants, Kohn said it might prove impossible.

    “”I don’t know how we could ever do that,”” Kohn said.

    But if the attorney general decides to create an entirely new office for the purpose, Kohn said he is concerned that money from an already strapped university budget would be used to fund it.

    Sen. Dean Martin, R-Mesa, a sponsor of Proposition 300, said he didn’t think the UA would see many changes as a result of the measure.

    Martin said admissions workers only have to be sure they check Arizona driver’s licenses, as legal residency is required to get one.

    Many similar documents, like passports, are already checked, so the UA should have no trouble identifying who is and who is not a resident, Martin said.

    The other ballot measure, Proposition 103, passed with nearly three-quarters of the vote, and calls for Arizona to enforce English as the state’s official language.

    According to the text of the proposition, any official action of the state must be conducted in English.

    Socorro Carrizosa, director of the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs, said she sometimes has to communicate with parents of students and prospective students in Spanish, and she worries that she might no longer be able to.

    “”If the law means I can’t do my business in Spanish, it’s going to be harmful,”” Carrizosa said.

    But Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, D-Tucson, said people like Carrizosa don’t have to worry. Garcia said the law means that official actions of the Arizona Board of Regents must be conducted in English, and it does not prohibit workers like Carrizosa from translating for those who need it.

    Because the law has so little effect, Garcia said he thinks Proposition 103 is “”as worthless as the paper it’s written on.””

    Garcia called both propositions “”bone-headed”” and said they lacked substance but served as valuable wedge issues for state Republicans during the campaign season.

    Most actions of the board of regents are conducted in English anyway, Garcia said. He said he is not convinced there are enough illegal immigrants at state universities to warrant an additional law.

    Kohn said the UA already has a system in place to make sure illegal immigrants don’t have access to in-state tuition.

    If admissions workers deem someone’s residency questionable because of a blank or ambiguous section on an application, the UA investigates further until the issue is resolved. Applying for financial aid requires even more official documentation.

    Because of that system, Kohn said he is confident the number of illegal immigrant students is very low, and even fewer of those are paying in-state tuition.

    Martin said he helped sponsor the proposition as a way to make sure state taxpayers are not supporting illegal immigration.

    “”We aren’t denying people an education, we’re just denying the subsidies,”” Martin said.

    Martin said he also supports Proposition 103 because having one standard language for official documents is important to the state’s efficiency.

    “”When it comes down to matters of law, you want to make sure you have no ambiguity,”” Martin said.

    Despite what state lawmakers describe as a relatively small impact, Carrizosa said she was still saddened to hear that the propositions had passed by such high numbers.

    Garcia said perhaps because there wasn’t a large enough public campaign against them, like the campaign against the proposition banning domestic partnership benefits, these measures were bound to pass.

    Carrizosa said she thinks advocates of the measures and political candidates from around the state sometimes used racist ideology in their favor.

    Martin said he hoped the immigration debate in Arizona did not involve racism.

    “”This debate should not be about who you are, where you came from or what you believe in,”” he said. “”This debate should only be about how you got here.””

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