Undocumented Students Organizing Against Maricopa Community Colleges Tuition Hike Approved, In Part, By Minutewoman

Pearson.JPG
Maricopa Community Colleges
Debra Pearson: politician, Minutewoman, educator.

​Undocumented youth across the Valley are organizing demonstrations against the Maricopa Community College Governing Board after the MCCGB quietly passed a massive tuition hike its president warned is "targeted" at undocumented students last month.

The measure was supported by a minutewoman board member, Debra Pearson, who denied the measure had anything to do with immigration -- without mentioning her membership in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Arizona DREAM Act Coalition member Viridiana Hernandez tells New Times that students are organizing to demonstrate at the next MCCGB meeting on April 26 about the importance of their education, and to protest that such an important decision can be made at a tiny meeting "nobody attends."

Out-of-state students taking six or fewer credit hours pay $96 per credit under the current policies, with a rate increase for more credits. The new rules will charge out-of-staters $317 per credit, or about $1,000 per class, even if they take a limited schedule.

Board President Randolph Lumm expressed concern at the February board meeting that the change "targets" undocumented students.

Board member Pearson "strongly disagreed," according to the minutes, then praised the board for enforcing "the law."

"The law" responsible for charging undocumented kids more for their education than "residents," even though many undocumented kids live here and pay taxes, does not explain why part-timers ought to pay as much as those taking a full-time schedule. The tuition increase is a critical blow to undocumented students, who have been taking community college classes as a way to continue their education in this post-Prop 300 world.

What's worse about Pearson's stance isn't its bald-faced disingenuity -- it's that she's a hypocrite.

In a campaign posting, Pearson waxed folk-eloquently about being a poor rural girl who might never have become anything in life if not for community college.

"I love the people that it gives a chance, a shot at a new life, the sense that they are eligible to dream," she wrote.

Some of Pearson's other loves, according to her Facebook page, include "fast cars, trains, planes, a Harley with loud pipes, and the laughter of small children and a grown man's smile at a tender moment."

So why does she want to deny that same opportunity at an education to undocumented students? We left her a message but haven't heard back.

Maxima Guerrero, 20, is an undocumented student at Phoenix College. Pearson is her representative on the board.

"I'm not even sure I'm going to be able to go back to school in the fall," she tells New Times. "I was paying $300 per class. Now I'm going to pay $300 per credit. So then I would have to pay $1000 per class. If I could barely get $300 for one class, how am I going to get $1000 for one class?"

Of course, that's exactly the point with Arizona immigration policies, which take their cue from  state Senate President Russell Pearce in pursuing "attrition through enforcement." Who else would this law affect, the, um, thousands of Americans traveling across the country to attend Mesa Community College?

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11 comments
Chris
Chris

Mr. Pratt - This issue is of great concern to me, and it should be to the rest of the metro area as well. Why certain politicians think it is a good idea to further marginalize people that are simply trying to become more educated is beyond me. This is a regressive move and is not how an "advanced" society should function.

The problem I have with your article is the snarky, underhanded dig at Mesa Community College...did you have a bad experience there or something? I teach at MCC and the reality is that the campus is extremely diverse. The sports programs DO actively recruit from all over the country and beyond. I have a number of great students from South America, Canada, and Europe and, yes, this law will affect these international students in a tremendously negative way.

Gregory Pratt
Gregory Pratt

Chris: My point was that Americans aren't traveling across the country to go there, as Americans don't generally leave their lives to study at a specific community college. I said that in relation to the bogus claim that the tuition change isn't aimed at undocumented students, when the reality is that it couldn't be meant for anyone else. No specific offense to Mesa Community College.

no spesial interests here
no spesial interests here

there are people who are U.S. citizens but out of state until the 12 month resident status is met. I saw my tuition go up over 300 percent. Nobody cares unless it encroaches on the well to do, the politicians or some other interest group. This country is broken beyond repair and I had nothing to do with it. I am white, male, single, no benefits, no pell grants, pay as I go, struggle to make ends meet working 2 jobs, my status ranks less than undocumented because I am not on the dole as most everyone else seems to be. By following the law I am side-stepped because everyone else belongs to a group such as native american, hispanic, female, have dependants, or some other ridiculous reason why they deserve to go to the top of a list over me, who has a 3.75 GPA and would make a decent RN. I work in the industry and schools are putting inadequate people in positions where the neglect and incompetency rates are skyrocketing. It used to be that the smart one went to the top of the list, now its full of dumb idiots without a clue.

jetmdb
jetmdb

Hey there, I'm applying for a job that requires a masters degree. Can I just say that I have one, but it's "undocumented'? And if that's now acceptable should I call the company a bunch of bigots and organize a protest?

Like most people, I'm for equal rights. But is it just me or does it seem like certain people want special rights?

Roy Beno
Roy Beno

The difference is that everyone would have to work for a masters degree, while some folks have to work for their citizenship and others are born with it. Citizenship is most clearly the difference between unwarranted disadvantage and privilege, masters degrees also are, but in a more complicated way. Do you really believe that you deserve your citizenship, when all you did to get it was to be given birth by your mother on this side of the border?

jetmdb
jetmdb

I like where this "undocumented" concept is going... If I take something from the store without paying for it and you call me a thief, you are an ignorant bigot since I did nothing wrong, it’s simply an “undocumented transaction”. If my corporation shelters its profit in hidden accounts, don’t call it tax evasion, it’s just “undocumented income”. If I enter my neighbor’s house without an invitation, don’t call it trespassing, it’s just an “undocumented visit”. Oh yea… and if my neighbor’s refrigerator is empty, I’ll gather all my friends together and protest.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

So, why don't they just get documented? Oh, that's right the New Times advocates open borders for all and a house to own, medical care, a good job and a right to an education. That's what citizens once were able to have. Let's not protest for the return of those things for the citizens though because we'd be hauled off to jail. Undocumented people can protest and get police protection to do it. Isn't tuition going up for all students? That probably doesn't matter and it's not as good of a story.

lintra3
lintra3

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Stacy
Stacy

Debra Pearson owes $$$ to Sen. Linda Gray (btw, she's a carpet bagger, she really lives in Prescott and NOT in LD10) check out this report. http://www.kpho.com/download/2...

Funny that a Tea Bagger is also a Carpet Bagger.. (just an observation)

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