After scared undocumented immigrant families pulled thousands of children out of schools in Alabama following the strict immigration enforcement law, a federal appeals court in Atlanta managed to temporarily block two provisions of this law. This meant that schools could no longer require determination of the immigration status of children enrolling, or that of their parents. It also meant that was no longer a crime for undocumented immigrants not to carry I.D. However, police could still require an individual who had been pulled over or arrested to provide proof of his immigration status if there was “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be an illegal immigrant.
While the Alabama immigration law continues to be sorted out, Hispanic families have fled to other parts of the country, taking a toll on agriculture in that state. Even when Americans are willing to take the backbreaking harvesting jobs usually done by immigrants, they just aren’t as efficient, by some accounts. This could result in crops going to waste, a rise in prices of produce and a whole other set of problems that were perhaps not contemplated by supporters of this law when enforcing such a sudden and stringent immigration law.
On a more emotional note, families have been split, while the more audacious men stayed behind to make a living and their wives and children went to Florida to feel safer.
On November 1, the Department of Justice issued a letter to Alabama school districts reminding them that, under the federal law passed in May 6, 2011, no state may deny access to a public school education because of their immigration status. The letter states that schools may not discriminate “on the basis of, amongst other things, race, color and national origin [..]”. The Department of Justice is requesting information from Alabama school districts to find out whether in fact they did break this law. All documents were due to the DOJ by November 14.
Members of the Birmingham Board of Education voted unanimously to draft and support a resolution condemning the new immigration law. “If this isn’t racism, if this isn’t Jim Crow, this is a disgrace before God,” Birmingham school board member Emanuel Ford was quoted as saying. “I can’t believe that in 2011, we would do something so blatant.”
Already there are complaints against one city for singling out a young Latina student, violating the Civil Rights Act. The U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office is investigating. A ruling by the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals on portions of the law is expected by year’s end. Meanwhile, questions, complaints and disagreements about how to interpret and implement portions of the law that took effect September 29 continue. With some questioning whether residents can continue to do simple things, such as rent a pavilion for a child’s birthday party at a county park or enroll a kid in Little League baseball without proper identification, there is a call to amend the new immigration law. Undoubtedly, the effects and that battle over how to implement and how to change the law will be ongoing.