Thursday, February 28, 2013

PCC makes HISTORIC Vote - In-state Tuition for DACA Recipients

Taken from the headlines of the Tucson Weekly from February 28, 2013...

Resident Equality 

PCC might do what the Arizona Board of Regents hasn't - provide in-state tuition for deferred-action students

by Mari Herreras
and it did!
In case you missed it, watch the historic 4-1 vote.

Ana Valenzuela understands exactly how the expected vote on Wednesday, Feb. 27, by the Pima Community College governing board can change lives.
The board is expected to vote on offering in-state tuition to students who've received federal work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program, created by the federal government in June, provides the ability to work and protection from being deported to people who've come to the United States undocumented as children.
Valenzuela, a UA junior and architecture major, told the Tucson Weekly that she should graduate from the UA by May 2013, but as a deferred-action student who pays out-of-state tuition, it will probably take her almost three additional years to get that degree. She's working to save money for her next class, but last semester she took one three-unit class, which cost her $3,600.
Through her work with ScholarshipsA-Z, a local organization that advocates for undocumented students and helps with tuition assistance, Valenzuela said she knows PCC students into their fourth year still working on their two-year associate's degree. It costs $63.50 per credit for full-time in-state PCC students, and $319 for nonresidents.
Currently, the only education institution in the state to offer these students in-state tuition is the Maricopa County's college system of 10 colleges. The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), which runs the state's universities, has discussed making a similar change, but decided it wasn't legally able.
"That's the next step to take action around this issue - ABOR," Valenzuela said.
However, the focus lately has been on PCC. "We've been active on this vote. We're really involved in our students and about 95 percent of the students we work with attend Pima. It used be higher."
That was before Arizona voters approved Proposition 300. The referendum prevents college students who cannot prove they are legal residents from receiving state financial assistance.
In 2008, The New York Times reported that the state Legislature found that about 1,700 students were denied in-state tuition in Maricopa County. The UA saw 200 to 300 drop outs because of the law and PCC lost more than 1,000 students.
"Prop 300 made it almost impossible for students to go to school," Valenzuela said.
The deferred-action program is for all undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16 and were no older than 31 when the program began. Those who apply must be in high school or have a high school diploma or GED. There are other requirements, including no felony convictions.
Deferred-action also provides students with a legal work permit - form I-767, under current Pima County law, students with residency are eligible for instate tuition.
That's why PCC board chair Brenda Even said she supports the vote taking place on Wednesday at the El Pueblo Library Learning Center, Room 3, 5 p.m. Newly elected PCC board member Sylvia Lee brought the proposal before the board in January, where board members discussed the legal aspects of the proposal, as well as if the state could retaliate by withholding funding.
"There's not much more they can cut," Even said. The board has been discussing this change since December when Maricopa County made its residency policy change and since the formal presentation in January most of the questions have been answered.
"We've checked with attorneys and I think are ready to vote on it at this time. I am hoping for a positive vote," she said. "I figured these are young people who have been in this country and in Tucson for many years. This is their home. We educate people. That's our mission 'Aide our community through learning.' Seems to me it would make some sense."
Valenzuela said she and other members of ScholarshipsA-Z have met with PCC board members before this vote. In a letter ScholarshipsA-Z sent to the PCC board, the group asked that if the board votes yes, that instate tuition be made available to deferred-action students by next semester, and that those students bring in their work permits this semester to change their status.
"We been working to make sure students have access to higher education. We want to continue to work with the board to implement this change and help train staff to do paperwork, be supportive and not pass judgment of status," Valenzuela said.
The group also requested that after the vote, the board makes a public statement on if this is going to be implemented or not.
Lee told the Weekly that she brought this proposal before the PCC board because she looks at this as an economic-development and quality-of-life issue. It's estimated there more than 4,000 students who are eligible if the board changes its policy.
"I sincerely hope the vote goes in our favor. We all know the benefits that higher education can play in improving lives and helping our economy in the long term," Lee said.
"Latino youth is the fastest growing youth group in our country. We have to secure an education for them for our country's future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tucson College May Grant In-State Tuition to DACA Recipients

On February 27th, Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, will decide whether or not to provide in-state tuition to students who receive work permits through the recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  This policy will tremendously improve access to higher education for all students, regardless of their immigration status.  If passed, PCC will follow in the footsteps of Maricopa County Community College District, which granted in-state tuition to DACA recipients starting this semester. 

Check out MCCCD's decision.

Why do we believe ALL institutions (community colleges and universities) should support this? 
Here are some important reasons

- Matt
  Executive Director, ScholarshipsA-Z

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Relief Granted to DREAMers: Tucson Reacts

On June 15, 2012, President Obama granted administrative relief to some DREAMers. The Tucson DREAM community and allies reacted by thanking the President and demanding the release of one Tucson DREAMer being held by the Border Patrol.

Read more students' reactions in an interview with Tucson's KVOA and KGUN9 stations, and local Arizona Daily Star paper. Video above is courtesy of The Three Sonorans.


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Impact of SB 1070 on Arizona’s Youth

This week, April 25th to be exact, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the fate of SB 1070, Arizona's anti-immigrant law passed in April 2010.  As the oral arguments are heard, the opinions cast, and news channels argue about what each of the Justice's comments might imply, we ask you to think about the families, especially children, who have been negatively impacted throughout our communities because of SB 1070.  

Check out this powerful report led by Tomas Lopez with the support of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program, James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.  After interviewing over 70 teachers, parents, and students the report will shock you:
"The report’s findings reveal a disturbing picture of youth destabilized, disillusioned, and disadvantaged by the passage of SB 1070. Their communities have been frayed by the departure of family members and friends. Their educations have been undermined by, among other factors, decreased school enrollments and the distress left in the wake of those departures. Many young people and their families also maintain a powerful mistrust of the public institutions around them, especially police, but also often extending to schools."
Download the full report.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When education's under attack, don't light a candle

At 8pm on March 13, 2012, members attending the 2012 NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education annual conference in Phoenix, AZ, including leaders from ScholarshipsA-Z were asked to light candles at a Candlelight Vigil for Social Justice.  Meant to bring awareness about social injustices in AZ, specifically those that target LGBTQ and immigrant families, this event only attracted approximately 5% of the entire population attending the conference (250+ out of 4,700).  As a result, this "act of kindness" became a paternalistic and passive move in a community that primarily creates change through action, not vigils.  Fortunately for NASPA, there was at least one moment of inspiration when the chairs of the GLBT and Latino/a Knowledge Communities spoke out against Arizona's oppressive legislation.  Leaders like Dr. Michelle Espino (University of Georgia) and Dr. Juan Guardia (Florida State University),  brought TRUTH to the otherwise passive and politically correct event by impacting the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance with their words and promises for action.

When education's under attack, what do you do?  Fight back!  With candles? NO, with action.

Because while we were lighting candles, the Maricopa County Sheriff was organizing yet another workplace raid to detain and deport more hardworking members of our community who happen to be undocumented.  

Candles = silence = inaction = injustice 

- Matt
Director, ScholarshipsA-Z

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Defining Courage: Undocumented Student Stories

We want to give a big shout out and much thanks to the leaders of the Border and Immigration Ministry at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, who brought us to facilitate a workshop about ScholarshipsA-Z and the DREAM Act.  Special thanks to Suzanne H., one of our biggest allies. While the session was inspiring on many levels, everyone in the room shared in a moment of tension brought about by the words of one workshop participant.  With pure certainty and excitement that his "counterpoint" would change the conversation, he shared with frustration that undocumented students from Mexico should not be here, and instead "go back to their own country and fix it."  

Although it was clear that most participants and all of our team members were triggered, we did not dismiss his fears.  (And they truly are fears) Instead, his misinformed and hateful beliefs were simply overpowered by stories of struggle and the pursuit of a college education.  With the utmost courage, ScholarshipsA-Z's undocumented and ally student leaders discussed their desire for opportunity and justice, leaving this participant and the allies in the crowd both speechless and in tears.

Today's workshop was difficult, yet educational.  It caused anger in the middle, yet understanding in the end.  And, one of the most important lessons we can take away from this experience is that undocumented students have a level of courage that remains unmatched.  Perhaps as allies, if we had only half of their courage to speak out and fix our broken immigration system, a workshop about the potential impacts of the DREAM Act wouldn't even exist.  

Matt Matera
Executive Director, ScholarshipsA-Z 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Undocumented & Unafraid in Alabama

You're watching this video because Fernanda Marroquin, a talented DREAMer, has been arrested. As an undocumented student who is unafraid and unapologetic, Fernanda and the other 12 protesters arrested in Alabama's capitol on Tuesday, show us what courage really looks like. Watch her video. Listen to her story. Her struggle is our struggle. Read more. Help get the protesters out of jail.

Fernanda has a lot to risk, yet she IS UNAFRAID. Are YOU?