Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman is a guest columnist for the Arizona Daily Star

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star//////

In 2010, when President Obama was asked to unilaterally change immigration laws, he said, “I’m president, I’m not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” A few years later, he did a couple of those things by himself. He “legalized” an entire class of people, then created a program that issued work permits.

President Obama’s new “law” is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It defines a class of illegal aliens who were brought to the United States as small children, remained here, and are now young adults.

The Maricopa Community College District decided to grant the DACA aliens in-state tuition. Tom Horne, Arizona Attorney General at the time, filed suit to block the policy but lost the decision by Judge Arthur Anderson in Maricopa Superior Court who claimed that the DACA aliens were “lawfully present.”

Interestingly, a senior Obama administration official was quoted in an article appearing in the New Republic entitled “Welcome to America!” stating, “Deferred action isn’t a pathway to citizenship. It’s not a legal status.”

Presidential executive orders do not change the law. Their purpose is to direct the operations of the executive branch. Why would Judge Anderson claim that the DACA aliens are “lawfully present” when federal immigration law says they are not?

Next, the Arizona Board of Regents decided to extend in-state tuition for Arizona’s three government universities to the DACA aliens. Now Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, citing Proposition 300, a referendum passed by voters in 2006 that prevented the granting of in-state tuition to anyone who was “not a citizen or legal resident of the United States or who is without lawful immigration status,” has won an appeal to Judge Anderson’s decision.

The Maricopa Community College District is appealing the Brnovich win to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The Board of Regents decided not to change their in-state offering pending that appeal.

At the time of the original filing, Brnovich told NBC News, “Our appeal in the DACA in-state tuition case is about the rule of law and protecting the will of Arizona voters.”

Our system of government works best when it’s followed. If the lawmaking authority of the United States Congress is usurped by the President, the result may make a big splash in the Washington, D.C. swamp, but the ripples will be felt far and wide in flyover country including Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Arizonans are now treated to a Superior Court judge who can’t seem to sort out what the real law says, a College Board of Regents who flout the law in service of a trendy politically correct policy, and all this occurring before a backdrop of aliens, who are not in the country legally, complaining about the high cost of out-of-state tuition.

The vast majority of Americans (myself included) think it would be crazy to deport DACA aliens. Most of them have no memory of living anywhere other than in this country. There should be a program that can accept most of them into legal resident alien status so they can work legally, are not subject to deportation without cause, and yes, get in-state tuition if they meet the criteria — note that Proposition 300 does not bar legal resident aliens from receiving in-state tuition.

The fix should be done by the Unites States Congress. Members of Congress are elected directly by the people, thereby representing them directly. Laws composed by direct representatives tend to be less controversial.

The president is the chief executive, an administrator. Let’s hope that we never see the day when the president walks out onto a balcony before cheering crowds and announces the laws he gave to them that week.

Hoffman has lived and worked in Tucson for 40 years. Email him at