As the first few approvals comes in for participants in President Obama's deferred-deporation program, colleges in at least one state have made a move toward helping eligible students afford a college education.
A spokesperson for Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona told the Arizona Republic that undocumented immigrants who get work permits through the two-year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be able to use them to establish residency, thus clearing them to pay lower tuition rates.
Meanwhile, the state's three four-year universities -- the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University -- are reviewing state law to determine whether they can do the same, a spokesperson for the state board of regents said in a statement. Work permits are accepted as proof of residency at Arizona and Arizona State, but not Northern Arizona.
Last month, state Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order designed to stop implementation of the program, though her efforts were quickly criticized as being "grandstanding" on her part.
In California, another hotbed for immigrants, the issue is moot, said Dianne Klein, a spokesperson for the University of California school system, because of AB540. That piece of legislation, passed in Oct. 2001, already allows for any incoming student to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status, if they meet certain conditions.
Ten other states -- Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin -- currently have similar legislation in place.
"Our policies of dealing with undocumented students are vastly different than Arizona's," Klein told The Raw Story Friday afternoon.
However, she added, she did not foresee a spike in the number of undocumented immigrants attending UC schools, citing their existing admissions standards.
"Either you're going to meet the requirements or you're not," she said. "When [schools] are evaluating these applications, immigration status is not taken into consideration at all - it's only after a student has been accepted that [AB540] would come into play."
According to USA Today, more than 82,000 immigrants have applied for the program, which began last month, with 29 getting approved and more than 63,000 making appointments to provide information such as fingerprints.
["University graduates in gowns" by Gina Smith via Shutterstock]