More Effects of Alabama’s Immigration Law

Alabama immigration law causing parents to withdraw children from schools.

Via Fox News: Reports of Hispanic Students Vanishing From Alabama Schools After Immigration Ruling:

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.

Additional stories:

Via The Huntsville TimesMore 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-RegisterAfter 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

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. There was a similar Hispanic diaspora in Prince William County, Virgina when it enacted its own immigration policies regarding police stops. Of course, some of that may have been attributable to the collapse of the housing market and subsequent decline in construction jobs, so it’s hard to make a direct correlation.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    It is wrong to punish children for the offenses of their parents.

    But it is also wrong to give the parents the benefits of the children’s innocence.

    J.

  3. Jay,

    Does it matter at all that many of these children are, in fact, American citizens?

  4. superdestroyer says:

    @Jay Tea:

    But isn’t is also wrong to allow parents to use their children as hostages and demand government services that they have no real right to receive?

  5. Jay Tea says:

    Doug, what would you have done? Their parents are exerting their rights to take their children with them. You wanna take away their parental rights and keep them in the state? You wanna grant the parents amnesty on the grounds of “hey, congrats! You scored an anchor baby! Here’s your ‘get legal’ card!”?

    Every day parents who commit crimes get sent to jail. And by your standard, we’re “punishing” their children by taking away their parents. Do we hold folks with small children to a lower standard than the childless? As a voluntarily childless adult, I got “equal protection” issues with that one.

    I don’t recall it ever being the policy of the US or of any state to invite illegal aliens in and urging them to have children. They didn’t create the situation; the parents did.

    J.

  6. Jay Tea says:

    @superdestroyer: I consciously avoided the “hostage” argument… but I can’t say it’s inappropriate.

    J.

  7. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: In Jay Tea land, no–it doesn’t matter at all that the children are citizens. How can that matter when laws proposing to remove provisions regarding citizenship by birth (or “automatic” citizenship) are part of the argument and “solution?”

    @ Professor Taylor:

    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.

    I’m sorry, I simply don’t accept the notion that these people are well-meaning idiots who don’t understand the law of unintended consequences any more. I’m gravating more towards the belief that they passed the laws specifically to get “those kid outta our schools.” As to the labor shortage, does Alabama have no parolees who must take whatever jobs are offered (with appologies to C. Dickens and E. Scrooge)?

  8. Jay Tea says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker: After comparing what I actually said and what you responded to… the only response I can come up with is “bite me, you delusional git.”

    J.

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    10 bucks says one or more of Jay Tea and superdestroyer’s direct ancestors came to this country illegally. I say this because I assume from prior conversations that they’re ancestors are from Europe, and in the 19th and 20th centuries, European immigrants overwhelmed the small immigration offices of the Federal government, and most estimates I’ve seen suggested that 1/3 – 1/2 of European immigrants came to this country without any legal right to do so.

    But god forbid anyone else benefit from this country like they are. Especially when it’s, you know….. people who are more likely to vote Democrat!

  10. mannning says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    So you seem to acknowledge indirectly that Democrats consider the voting predilictions of immigrants an important issue. Is that a primary consideration? One that drives the Open Borders issue? It would seem so, which would make the issue quite potent on the Hill for Democrats, in a cynical sort of way. Then, you castigate Republicans for objecting to such a cynical augmentation of your roles. Wonderful!

    Perhaps then you will hide behind the pure humanitarian issue involved in order to be perceived as being upstanding after all. To really influence elections you would have to admit a significant number of immigrants in each state, or at least in the swing states, to create a Democratic majority. I wonder if that is the plan?

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    So you seem to acknowledge indirectly that Democrats consider the voting predilictions of immigrants an important issue.

    No, I was making a joke that Republicans only care about illegal immigration when the immigrants aren’t from Europe, and use partisanship as a convenient excuse.

    Opposition to dark-skinned Catholics who don’t come from the Anglo/Northern European cultures was the Know Nothing argument against Italians in the early 20th Century (many of whom were illegal) and it drives Know Nothingism today.

    I think our immigration laws are stupid ones that deprive the United State from benefitting economically from smart, hard-working people who are willing to take a chance on a better life. I want more immigration because I’m selfish, and I want America to have a thriving economy, and historically, immigration – both illegal and legal – has been a driver for that.

    Immigration should be streamlined, the caps should be raised, and the only reason for denying someone entry is being wanted on violent criminal charges by a country with whom we have an extradition treaty.

  12. Alex Knapp says:

    Additionally, Mannning, I have a problem with immigration laws because their enforcement, with their insistence on IDs, government snooping, and incessant documentation have all the hallmarks of a police state, not a free society.

    I won’t lie that more immigration benefits the Democratic Party, and I’m okay with that. But lots of immigrants and minorities are pretty conservative. It’s the Republican Party that keeps pushing them out of their ranks. Not vice versa. Take the Muslims who try to join local Republican Parties and get kicked out, for example. When other Muslims hear that, are they going to be more inclined to join a Republican Party with whom they agree on a large swathe of social conservative issues?

    Nope, they’re not. They’ll vote for a Democratic Party that they largely disagree with, but trust won’t consider them to be non-citizens worthy only of suspicion.

  13. Loviatar says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    Nope, they’re not. They’ll vote for a Democratic Party that they largely disagree with, but trust won’t consider them to be non-citizens worthy only of suspicion.

    Apropos to your comment Alex, Ta-Nehisi Coates has a great post about Herman Cain’s brainwashing comment from last week.

    Herman Cain Is No Booker T. Washington

    There is, as there always has been, a large number of black conservatives. That they largely happen to vote Democratic says more about the GOP then it does about “brainwashing.”

  14. mannning says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    I am also for immigration of smart, hard working people, especially if they have needed skills and knowledge that benefit our economy, but I do draw the line at illegals: firstly because you do not know that they are smart and skilled; secondly they simply broke the law up front; thirdly, they may well be undesirables or criminals; and finally, they are competing for jobs that we should fill from within today.

    I also agree that our system needs repair, substantial repair at that. We left the quota system for some ad hoc approach that is hard for me to grasp, and we have FSOs that appear to have their own standards and methods for issuing visas. Obviously, I am not in favor of amnesty unless the subjects do have needed smarts and skills, and a clean record. I am very much in favor of a workable (migrant worker, or student for example) temporary visa system, so long as overstays can be minimized, but this requires IDs and tracking or reporting, which we do not do very well today.

    Having in the past lived under the EU system and the Dutch system for ten years, I have been conditioned to having proper ID papers on me at all times, and I must insist that the Dutch execute their ID functions in a very professional manner, with no hint of a hassle, unless, of course, you make one. I also had to appear at the local police station once a year to renew my alien resident permit: Het Verblijf Vergunning I think it was. I believe that we have something similar for aliens in the US.

    (Under these conditions, we might achieve close to a 50/50 split politically!)

  15. Liberty60 says:

    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.

    No, I’m afraid not.

    Causing pain and suffering to the children and their families was not an “unintended consequence”. it is THE intended consequence, of a political movement that is based on tribal rage and resentment.

  16. Jay Tea says:

    @Alex Knapp: 10 bucks says one or more of Jay Tea and superdestroyer’s direct ancestors came to this country illegally.

    Don’t take that bet. Oh, not because you’d lose — but because I don’t know and I don’t care. It would be largely an unprovable bet.

    And why don’t I care? Because I am more concerned with the here and now. News flash: times change, circumstances change, the world changes. The “that’s how the rules were back in the 19th century, we shouldn’t change them” principle that you seem to espouse could be used for all sorts of mischief — like getting rid of women’s right to vote, the civil rights movement, even slavery.

    I’m going to repeat an earlier point I made, a bit more…. well, pointedly. No, the guilt of the parents should not be transferable to the children. But likewise, the innocence of the children (along with their citizenship) should not be transferable to the parents. To treat illegal aliens different based on whether or not they’ve managed to have a child in the US is a violation of the “equal protection” clause — at least in spirit, if not in deed (I’m no lawyer, and don’t want to get into it over technicalities.)

    And for a very practical reason. “Whatever you subsidize, you get more of.” Start rewarding illegal aliens for having a child in the US, and just watch the number of children born to illegal aliens go through the frigging roof. (Or, if you want to get pedantic, “once you stop punishing illegal aliens” — a distinction without a difference.)

    Yes, it’s a shame what happens to American citizen children of illegal aliens when their parents get caught. And it’s disgusting that the parents put those children in those situations — it borders on child abuse, to me.

    J.

  17. Jay Tea says:

    @Liberty60: Well, ain’t you the most awesomest mindreader around? Quick, tell me what color socks I’m wearing!

    J.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    There are 100’s of millions of third world residents who want to move to the U.S. Should we let all of them come to the U.S. until the economy is so bad and the quality of life so pathetic that they stop wanting to come here.

    Why should someone born and raised and the U.S. be forced to learn Spanish , Tagalog, Chinese, and Hindi in order to keep living in the U.S.

    Where should all of the people born in the U.S. move when the policies that you are proposing have managed to turn the U.S. of tomorrow into the Mexico, Nigeria, or Pakistan of today?

  19. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jay Tea: I know! I know! You’re not wearing socks. People don’t wear them in Dogpatch.

  20. mike says:

    Good job Alabama – your education system sucks bad enough – forcing kids to withdraw b/c they are scared to go to school is only going to make it worse. Targeting parents through their kids, sounds like some guerilla warfare tactic. I am going to guess that your legislature is the product of your school system.

  21. Jay Tea says:

    @mike: It might have escaped your notice, but it’s the legal status of the children that is being checked. Which means those “American citizens” cited above are utterly safe.

    Also, note the big ol’ loophole:

    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.

    J.

  22. samwide says:

    @superdestroyer ad nauseum:

    Golly, between the niggers, and the spics, and the towel-heads, how’s white, soon-to-be politically marginalized brother supposed to get a good night’s sleep?

  23. samwide says:

    Steven, can you spring my comment from the moderation queue (I trust you get satirical intent….).

  24. Jay Tea says:

    @samwide: I’ve found a judicious paraphrasing or deliberate misspelling of certain key words tends to avoid the Moderation Monster…

    J.

  25. samwide says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Yeah, I suppose. But that might’ve blunted the stake I was trying to drive through superdestroyer’s racist heart.

  26. Jay Tea says:

    @samwide: OK, so the word choice was significant. Again, a slight misspelling sometimes works…

    J.

  27. Barry says:

    @Jay Tea: “But it is also wrong to give the parents the benefits of the children’s innocence. ”

    If you could rewrite this with some logic, it’d help.

  28. Barry says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker: “I’m sorry, I simply don’t accept the notion that these people are well-meaning idiots who don’t understand the law of unintended consequences any more. I’m gravating more towards the belief that they passed the laws specifically to get “those kid outta our schools.” As to the labor shortage, does Alabama have no parolees who must take whatever jobs are offered (with appologies to C. Dickens and E. Scrooge)? ”

    I second this all. And I expect slavery to blossom under the Tea Party.

  29. Jay Tea says:

    @Barry: Let me try it this way:

    I don’t agree with treating illegal aliens differently simply because they have children, even if those children are American citizens. And my phrasing was intended to play off the “punishing the children for the offenses of the parents” riff — the theme there was that the parents’ guilt should not be transferable. I agree, and extended it to say that the children’s innocence and citizenship should also not be transferable.

    Got that, or should I limit it to words of two syllables or less?

    J.

  30. Wayne says:

    One thing that many seem to miss, this shows that there are ways to hamper illegal immigration. Pass laws to make sure employees and those giving out benefits go to only those who are in this country legally and you will greatly decrease the number of illegals.

    I hear the argument already “but we need the illegals here for labor”. We can always increase the number of immigrants coming in. Also we are setting at near 10% unemployment. ”but they won’t do the jobs. It is beneath them” then they don’t need government assistance either.

  31. mannning says:

    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.

    I should hope not, this was an Alabama law, not a national law. It seems that a very similar law is on the national books, however, but it is one of those laws that have been observed mostly by neglect. We seem to have a number of laws on the books that, if properly applied, would help the situation.

    However, I am in favor of a full and complete overhaul of our immigration laws, organizations and policies to reduce the illegal immigrant problem, help the migrant worker and student problems, and ensure a steady flow of objectively well-qualified immigrants to the nation, but without amnesty for poorly-qualified illegals. The overhaul must begin with adequate border control, and then proceed to the rest.

  32. Jay Tea says:

    @mannning: Sorry, chum. To the left, “comprehensive immigration reform” means “amnesty now, we’ll take care of the rest later, promise.”

    J.

  33. Jay Tea says:

    @samwide: Well put. I might have gone with “nigras, wetbacks, and ragheads” to avoid the Moderation Monster and put that slightest touch of faux gentility on the whole thing, but I like it.

    J.

  34. mannning says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Well, JayT, I am certainly aware of the code, but it is factually true that the entire process needs overhaul. We simply have to execute the overhaul of border controls first. No promises of future legislation; that does not work when the fickle opposition renigs on its promises time after time.