Alabama’s Immigration Law Jeopardizes School Kids

As reported on our Blog in February 2009 Alabama has ongoing problems with his immigration law (HB 56). In September of last year, the state started to enforce the toughest immigration law of the nation. 

It caused several unwanted side effects. Among other things it requires schools to verify the citizenship of students and allows students to be questioned on their immigration status.

Now the U.S. Department of Justice is concerned that Alabama’s immigration law has made schools “less safe and welcoming” for Hispanic students and may have led 13.4% of those students to withdraw from school in the course of several months.That is according to a four-page letter dated May 1 from U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez to Alabama school Superintendent Tommy Bice. The letter was made public last week and was first reported by CNN.

Furthermore, according to research conducted by the Department of Justice, Hispanic students absence rates tripled while absence rates of other groups of students remained virtually flat. Additionally, many students reported of being singled out to receive notices or attend assemblies about HB 56, as well as increased anxiety and diminished concentration in school, deteriorating grades and increased hostility, bullying and intimidation.

The problem has bothered the U.S. Department of Justice for a while as it is the department’s duty to enforce laws that bar “discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin,” and requires that “affirmative measures” be taken to assist students for whom English is not their native language. The withdrawal of many students means that they do not receive the educational services (English as a second language) to which they are legally entitled.

In October 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals already blocked the section of Alabama’s immigration requiring schools to track immigration information about new students. The court ruled such measures were not needed.

Whether more sections of Alabama’s immigration law will be struck down because of unintended consequences, remains to be seen.
(c) Picture:  Alabama Great Seal
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und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs