Alabama: Many Immigrants Pull Children From Schools
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 30, 2011
Hispanic students are vanishing from public schools in the wake of a court ruling on Wednesday that upheld the state’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration. Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children or kept them home this week, afraid that sending them to school would draw attention from the authorities. There are no precise statewide numbers. But several districts with large immigrant enrollments reported a sudden exodus of children of Hispanic parents, some of whom told officials that they would leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students’ immigration status.
In one of the state’s largest cities, Huntsville, the superintendent went on a Spanish-language television show on Thursday to try to calm worries. “Our students do not have anything to fear,” the superintendent, Casey Wardynski, said in halting Spanish. He said the state was only trying to compile statistics. The police, he insisted, were not getting involved in schools. In Montgomery County, more than 200 Hispanic students were absent on Thursday. In Albertville, 35 students withdrew in one day. And about 20 students in Shelby County, in suburban Birmingham, withdrew or told teachers that they were leaving. Local and state officials are pleading with immigrant families to keep their children enrolled.
The law does not bar anyone from school, they say, and neither students nor parents will be arrested for trying to get an education. The Obama administration filed court documents on Friday announcing its plans to appeal the ruling that upheld the law.