A federal appeals court has today blocked enforcement of parts of Alabama’s controversial immigration law.
The injunction was issued from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, responding to a request from the U.S. Justice Department, along with a coalition of immigrant rights groups, that the legislation be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions could be addressed.
The Obama administration says the Constitution does not permit states to deter illegal immigration, saying an issue with foreign policy implications is the exclusive mandate of the federal government.
Among the new provisions: state officials will no longer be able to check the immigration status of students in public schools, and “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration card” will no longer be a misdemeanor for immigrants.
This is at least a start to undermining this cruel law that seeks to demonize immigrants.
October 6 – Latino Families Fleeing Alabama In Droves
As Care2′s Mhaire Fraser wrote here, it is now legal to racially profile in Alabama: law enforcement officials in the state have the right to question and detain anyone they suspect may be an undocumented immigrant.
In addition, K-12 institutions are required to track the immigration status of their students, even though federal law requires public schools to educate undocumented children.
And so the fear was that Hispanic parents would keep their kids home, rather than sending them to school.
Latino Kids Not Sitting At Home, But Leaving The State
Scores of immigrant children have indeed not shown up at their Alabama schools this week, but they’re not sitting at home. Instead, Latino parents are leaving the state in droves, and they are taking their children with them. These are parents who are afraid to live in Alabama and don’t want to get pulled over while driving, or detained for some other reason. So they are leaving the state.
Parents are also afraid about what would happen to their children if they got arrested or detained without bail while their children were at school.
669 Hispanic Students Are No-Shows
From Here & Now:
669 Hispanic students in Baldwin County did not show up at school Monday. At Foley Elementary, the Hispanic student population is vanishing.
When enforcement of Alabama’s new immigration law began last Thursday, Hispanics students were school no-shows. Since then, 20 Hispanic students at Foley Elementary are no longer enrolled. As many as 30 more could withdraw from school by the end of the week.
School principal Dr. Bill Lawrence says many Hispanic parents don’t understand the law and are afraid they might be detained or deported. Lawrence tells News 5 many families are leaving Alabama and moving to “safe-haven” states like Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee.
Lawrence says most of his 223 Hispanic students were born in the U-S and have grown up in Baldwin County.
Schools Trying To Reassure Latino Families
Meanwhile, 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.
Schools, too, have been trying to get the message out that they are safe places to be. The law “only” requires that schools get the birth certificates or other proof of citizenship from new students enrolled in Alabama schools after September 29, not from other students.
The Obama administration filed court documents last week announcing its plans to appeal the ruling that upheld the law.
Welcome to America, now go home, seems to be the message. This is an ugly ruling, and it needs to be overturned.
Photo Credit: MorganElise