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Navajo Technical College Comes To Phoenix, Serves Immigrants

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Navajo Technical College Comes To Phoenix, Serves Immigrants

Navajo Technical College Comes To Phoenix, Serves Immigrants

Photo by Devin Browne

Rafael Sanchez, 24, studied at South Mountain Community College until he was priced out last summer. "When they moved up the credits to like $300 per hour, I was like: 'Wow,'" he said. Now, he's taking classes at Navajo Technical College. Credits are $45 per hour for Navajo students; $90 per hour for everyone else.

PHOENIX -- There’s a new community college in Phoenix – the Navajo Technical College (NTC). But, most of the students aren’t Navajo, and none of the classes are technical. This college's new branch is enrolling hundreds of immigrant students who can't afford to go to school anywhere else.

The Maricopa Community College District increased tuition for non-residents by more than 300% last year. State Representative Catherine Miranda said she knew one of the hardest-hit groups would be immigrant kids who live in Arizona, but not legally.

"Later that evening, [my husband and I] just knew they were going to pass the policy anyway," Miranda said. "So I asked him, 'What can we do for these kids?'"

The answer, they decided, was to partner with a college that didn't have to abide by the state law that requires undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition – a college like Navajo Technical College.

NTC is based in Crownpoint, New Mexico. This is the first time they are offering classes that are not on a reservation. Rafael Sanchez, 24, is one of their new students.

"We have English, Math, Sociology, and a Navajo Historical Class," Sanchez said. "And everyone is in English and math and sociology. I mean I would like to learn more about Navajo...but I would just like to finish and pass my classes."

The president of NTC says he’s working hard to reach out to more Native American students in Phoenix. Of the more than 200 students already enrolled this semester, Miranda believes that almost all of them are immigrants.

Devin Browne was a reporter for KZJZ's Fronteras Desk.