Hispanic Attendance Down after Ruling on Alabama Immigration Law

Following a recent federal court ruling that most provisions of a controversial set of new immigration laws can go into effect in Alabama, schools around the state have seen diminished attendance of Hispanic students.

Huntsville School Superintendent Casey Wardynski appeared on a Spanish-language TV show September 29 and explained the new law requires schools to report on students’ immigration status only for the purpose of compiling data, and that immigration enforcement agents will not target students.

Despite Wardynski’s assurances, Huntsville schools reported more than 200 district-wide absences at the end of the week, according to local news source WHNT. A similar number of Hispanic students were absent from Montgomery County schools, while in the small town of Albertville, 35 students withdrew from school in one day, The Associated Press reported.

Several news sources quoted unidentified individuals who said they are leaving the state or know illegal immigrants who are leaving the state. Among other provisions upheld in a September 28 ruling, Judge Sharon Blackburn stated law enforcement officers can request proof of citizenship during traffic stops if they suspect the offender might be an illegal immigrant.

The U.S. Department of Justice appealed Blackburn’s decision two days after it was issued and requested the judge put her ruling on hold pending a decision from a federal appeals court.