Story by Jude Joffee-Block
Fronteras Desk

Four people were arrested Tuesday evening in protest of a lawsuit the Arizona attorney general has filed against the state's largest network of community colleges.

Attorney General Tom Horne is proceeding with a lawsuit in an effort to stop the college district from granting in-state tuition to certain young immigrants. For months a group of students and activists has been trying to pressure Horne to drop the suit.

Horne protest

Photo: Jude Joffe-Block

Raquel Guerrero holds an urn holding the ashes of burned copies of high school diplomas in the lobby of the Arizona Attorney General's office.

Under Arizona law, unauthorized immigrants can't qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

But when young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children began to get work permits under a new Obama administration program, that opened the door to in-state tuition rates at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Yet Horne maintains the Maricopa Community College can't legally grant these immigrant students in-state tuition rates, and has sued to stop the college district from doing so.

If Horne's suit succeeds, Raquel Guerrero, 26, said she will have to give up studying.

"It prices me out of school," said Guerrero, who was brought to this country illegally as a child but has been paying in-state tuition rates at Estrella Mountain Community College since she qualified for a federal work permit.

An initial pre-trial conference call is scheduled on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday night around 50 activists held what they said was a funeral for the education hopes of young immigrants in Arizona.

They burned copies of high school diplomas and collected the ashes into an urn. They sat down in the lobby of the attorney general's office building and sang "Amazing Grace."

Four individuals were arrested when they refused to leave the lobby after the building closed at 5 p.m.

A group of protesters initially planned to spend the night in front of the building but took down their tents at law enforcement's request.

FRONTERAS DESK EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to Rio Salado Community College, part of the Maricopa County Community College District.