Justice Dept. Probes Ala. Immigration Law's Effect On Student Enrollment

The U.S. Justice is making a preliminary inquiry into whether a new Alabama immigration law has resulted in the state's school districts violating federal law.
by , | November 2, 2011

The U.S. Justice Department is requesting information from Alabama schools to assess whether the state's new immigration law has chilled or discouraged student participation in public education.

In a letter sent to Alabama school districts, the Justice Department reminded superintendents of their obligation under federal law to provide all students with an education regardless of immigration status. The immigration law requires enrolling students to present a birth certificate to their school. Those who do not are still allowed to attend school. The data is being collected to quantify the cost of educating undocumented students, state Rep. Mickey Hammon, a sponsor of the law, told Governing.

In the first week of October after the policy went into effect, more than 1,350 Hispanic students went missing from the state's classrooms, according to the Alabama Department of Education.

The Justice Department said it is seeking information "to determine whether each school district is in compliance with federal law and whether further action is warranted."

Every Alabama school district to provide several sets of data, including how many students have withdrawn this school year and their ethnicity, national origin and immigration status. The data must be submitted by Nov. 14. School districts must also provide that information on a monthly basis until told otherwise.

Last month, a federal court in Atlanta blocked the provision of the law that required schools to check the immigration status of students, according to the Associated Press. The Justice Department has also filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the entire law.


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