Oct 1 2011
New Law in Alabama Asks Schools to Verify Children’s Immigrant Status
A new, restrictive immigration law in Alabama has just passed its first test; a judge ruled Wednesday that several portions of the law could be put into place, including a section on public school enrollment. The law, which took effect last Thursday, asks that schools check birth certificates in cases when a child is enrolling in an Alabama school for the first time. If school officials deem that the child in question is not lawfully in the United States or if a birth certificate is not presented to officials, the officials are required to ask the parent(s) or guardian(s) to offer other documentation or sign an affidavit verifying the legal status (citizenship or legal immigrant) of the student. If such documentation is not given to the officials within 30 days, the school must record that child as “enrolled without birth certificate” in the state’s database.
Opponents of the law claim that it will have deleterious effects on children and their parents. They believe that the school systems will now serve as barriers to the provision of needed education to many innocent children. Advocates of the law, however, state that it does not block enrollment; it simply provides officials with a method to track how many illegal immigrant children are enrolled in the state’s school system.