Alabama Schools Lose Hispanic Students
Hispanic students begin to leave Alabama public schools in the wake of a court decision upholding the tough new state law that cracks down on illegal immigration.
According to education officials, scores of immigrant families withdrew their children from classes or have decided to keep them at home this week. They are worried that sending the kids to school would draw the authorities’ attention to them.
There is no exact statewide number, but a number of districts with huge immigrant enrollments, from tiny towns to big urban areas, have reported a sudden exodus of Hispanic children. The parents of some of these students said that they intend to leave the state to avoid getting into trouble with the law. The new immigration law recently passed by the state and upheld by the court requires schools to check the immigration status of their students.
The concern has become so strong that the superintendent in Huntsville, one of the largest cities in the state, went on a Spanish-language TV show Thursday in an attempt to calm the widespread worries being felt by parents of Hispanic students.
In halting Spanish, Casey Wardynski said, “In the case of this law, our students do not have anything to fear.” He also advised families to send students to class and explained that Alabama is just trying to compile statistics. He insisted that the police are not getting involved in schools.
Victor Palafox, who graduated from a Birmingham high school last year and has lived in the US without any documentation since the age of 6, when he and his brother was brought by his parents to the United States from Mexico.
He said, “Younger students are watching their lives taken from their hands.”