Blog: Latino Ed Beat

The Fallout from Alabama’s Immigration Law

In the same week that a federal judge upheld a controversial Alabama immigration law, hundreds of school children began disappearing from classrooms across the state.News accounts from the Al.com, ABC News.com and the Associated Press described scenes of children and parents frightened by the law’s requirement that schools ask the immigration status of newly enrolled students.

It is a scene that many educators and immigrant advocates in Alabama have feared. In August, we noted that the law did not appear to decrease the Latino enrollment, but the judge’s recent decision upholding the law seems to be turning those numbers around.

For education reporters in Alabama, there will be obvious follow-up stories, looking at whether the numbers of Latino students continue to fall, how schools will cope with the exodus, and the effects on children and families. But for reporters in other states, the Alabama events can also open the door to stories: Are Latino children from Alabama moving to other states and other districts? Are Latino families in states with immigration laws like Alabama’s (Arizona comes to mind) or those considering similar legislation also starting to pull their children from school? And what are school officials doing to assuage fears?

Last week, a Harvard Educational Review study examined the pressures and hardships for the children of undocumented immigrants. Those findings are even more timely in the wake of the news coming out of Alabama.