Alabama Under Continual Fire for Immigration Law

Three education groups including the National Education Association have come together to file a friend-of-the-court brief against Alabama's immigration law, writes Mark Walsh at Education Week.

The brief's co-signers were the NEA's state affiliate, the Alabama Education Association and the National School Boards Association.

The brief, that was filed this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, states that "the purpose and effect of HB 56 is to use fear and intimidation to drive undocumented immigrants and their children out of the state of Alabama." The brief is part of a lawsuit that challenges the state principle that requires schools to determine the citizenship status of students.

The U.S. Court of Appeals is now considering whether to overturn a federal district judge's decision against blocking several of the law's provisions.

The brief specifically points out the law's Section 28, that deals with schools' requirement to figure out whether children are in the country legally and the organizations say that this clashes with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, where the high court held that a state may not deny access to a basic public education to any child, whether that child is present in the country legally or not.

"The Act's enrollment disclosure requirements and its reporting requirements already have and will continue to deter undocumented immigrants from enrolling their children—documented or not—in Alabama's public schools," the school groups' brief states.

"As the record evidence demonstrates, parents will decline to enroll their children due to fear that the enrollment process will result in the child's or the parents' deportation."

As reported by Ed Week earlier, the state has clashed with the U.S. Department of Justice over the department's request for information from schools about students who have left since the law went into effect.

The court must now weigh requests from the federal government and private groups to block these controversial provisions of the Alabama law that the federal district judge allowed to proceed.

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