More Effects of Alabama’s Immigration Law
Alabama immigration law causing parents to withdraw children from schools.
Hispanic students have started vanishing from Alabama public schools in the wake of a court ruling that upheld the state’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration
In Montgomery County, more than 200 Hispanic students were absent the morning after the judge’s Wednesday ruling. A handful withdrew.
In tiny Albertville, 35 students withdrew in one day. And about 20 students in Shelby County, in suburban Birmingham, either withdrew or told teachers they were leaving.
A school worker in Albertville — a community with a large poultry industry that employs many Hispanic workers — said Friday that many families might leave town over the weekend for other states. About 22 percent of the community’s 4,200 students are Hispanic.
In Russellville, which has one of the largest immigrant populations in the state because of its poultry plants, overall school attendance was down more than 2 percent after the ruling, and the rate was higher among Hispanic students.
The law requires that schools start collecting data on the immigration status of students. The rules are as follows (source):
Under the new immigration law, schools must check the citizenship status of any student who enrolls after Sept. 1.
The students must present a birth certificate. Those who cannot do so have 30 days to submit documentation or an affidavit signed by a parent or guardian saying that they are here legally.
If they don’t, schools would enter a notation in the statewide computer system saying that no proof of citizenship was provided.
Interim state schools Superintendent Larry Craven sent a letter to local superintendents Thursday detailing that process. But it remained unclear what might happen after the notation is made in the computer system.
Of course, even if state officials tell immigrant families that police or immigration officials will not be informed, it would appear that many families do not believe it (back to the Fox News piece):
Local and state officials are pleading with immigrant families to keep their children enrolled. The law does not ban anyone from school, they say, and neither students nor parents will be arrested for trying to get an education.
But many Spanish-speaking families aren’t waiting around to see what happens.
This is not a surprise, and it should not be a surprise to state officials. Yet, like the issue of labor shortages for agriculture, one gets the impression that the state did not understand the implications of the law that was passed.
The real shame here is that all this will accomplish is to punish the children, who have been pulled from school (and, depending on how insecure the parents feel, may not be put back in, even in another state). No doubt many of the students in question are citizens, and maybe even one of the parents could be as well. However, a family that has any members who are illegal are likely to to fear what would look to them like a registry of immigrants. Again, a complex problem cannot be solved by a simple blunt instrument.
Another unintended consequence for the local schools: if they lose students, they will lose federal dollars.
So: at this point all the law has managed to damage the agriculture industry and now is going to lead a bunch of children having their educations disrupted and local schools losing money.
Way to go, state legislature!
And, of course, in terms of doing anything to fix the actual problems associated with illegal immigration on the national level, this law does nothing.
Via The Huntsville Times: More than 200 Hispanic students absent in Huntsville following immigration law ruling and Huntsville superintendent takes to airwaves in Spanish to reassure parents of undocumented children (with video).
Via the Mobile Press-Register: After immigration ruling at Foley school with Hispanic population, students cry, withdraw, no-show.
Via the Birmingham News: Alabama schools will check immigration status but enroll all students