published Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Hispanic students vanish from Alabama schools

By JAY REEVES

Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Hispanic students have started vanishing from Alabama public schools in the wake of a court ruling that upheld the state’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children from classes or kept them home this week, afraid that sending the kids to school would draw attention from authorities.

There are no precise statewide numbers. But several districts with large immigrant enrollments — from small towns to large urban districts — reported a sudden exodus of children from Hispanic families, some of whom told officials they would leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students’ immigration status.

The anxiety has become so intense that the superintendent in one of the state’s largest cities, Huntsville, went on a Spanish-language television show Thursday to try to calm worried parents.

“In the case of this law, our students do not have anything to fear,” Casey Wardynski said in halting Spanish. He urged families to send students to class and explained that the state is only trying to compile statistics.

Police, he insisted, were not getting involved in schools.

In Montgomery County, more than 200 Hispanic students were absent the morning after the judge’s ruling, and a handful have withdrawn. In tiny Albertville, 35 students withdrew from school in one day. About 20 students either withdrew or told teachers they were leaving in Shelby County, in suburban Birmingham.

Local and state officials are pleading with immigrant families to keep their children enrolled. The law does not ban anyone from school, they say, and neither students nor parents will be arrested for trying to get an education.

But so far, many Spanish-speaking families aren’t waiting around to see what happens.

A school worker in Albertville — a community with a large poultry industry that employs many Hispanic workers — said Friday many families might leave town over the weekend for other states. About 22 percent of the community’s 4,200 students are Hispanic.

“I met a Hispanic mother in the hallway at our community learning center this morning, where enrollment and withdrawal happens. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. I asked, ‘Are you leaving?’ She said ‘Yes,’ and hugged me, crying,” said the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not an authorized spokeswoman.

In Russellville, which has one of the largest immigrant populations in the state because of its poultry plants, overall school attendance was down more than 2 percent after the ruling, and the rate was higher among Hispanic students.

There’s “no firm data yet, but several students have related to their teachers that they may be moving soon,” said George Harper, who works in the central office.

Schools in Baldwin County, a heavily agricultural and tourist area near the Gulf Coast, and in Decatur in the Tennessee Valley also reported sudden decreases in Hispanic attendance.

The law does not require proof of citizenship to enroll, and it does not apply to any students who were enrolled before Sept. 1. While most students are not affected, school systems are supposed to begin checking the status of first-time enrollees now.

The state has distributed to schools sample letters that can be sent to parents of new students informing them of the law’s requirements for either citizenship documents or sworn statements by parents.

In an attempt to calm fears that the law may lead to arrests, the letter tells parents immigration information will be used only to gather statistics.

“Rest assured,” the letter states, “that it will not be a problem if you are unable or unwilling to provide either of the documents.”

———

Associated Press writers Steve Gutkin in Atlanta and Phillip Rawls in Montgomery contributed to this report.

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Humphrey said...

I wonder what's going to happen to the price of chicken?

October 1, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.
rolando said...

The real reason the schools are crying so loudly is because their federal funds are directly related to the number of students. Fewer student = less money. That is their primary concern and hence the phoney crocodile tears.

Since most of the school administrations are tied tightly to Teachers' Unions and are bound to impossible labor contracts, they cannot reduce pay, fire them, cut bennies, etc. The schools will simply have to eat the fund cuts...or eliminate admin positions.

Either that or learn from Walker and eliminate labor union negotiations for anything but salary.

October 1, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
rolando said...

The plants will simply move to Tennessee, Humph, along with all the illegals and their resource-grubbing get.

October 1, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
01centare said...

The plants will simply move to Tennessee,

Or use prisoners to do the work at a fraction of the cost the way Georgia did when they ran off immigrant workers in Macon. If the prison labor doesn't pan out, they can always resort back to forced labor AKA slavery at even a lesser cost.

October 1, 2011 at 7:16 p.m.
Wilder said...

The politicians are playing games - when they get serious about enforcement, they will go after the employers. In Georgia, Nathan "Shady" Deal's most ardent supporters and financial contributors, are the largest employers of illegal aliens in the state, e.g., the chicken and carpet cartels.

The enforcement is all make believe, to fool the ignorant. When I see the CEO's of Dalton's carpet cartel being perp walked out of their lint factories, I will know they are serious.

October 1, 2011 at 7:46 p.m.
rolando said...

Actually, 01cent, slavery is/was anything but cheap, even at its high point.

There was simply no other practical way to keep the North supplied with all that food, furniture, textiles, et al, it forced the South to sell only to them. Kinda sorta exacta like Chinese products today...

Finally, perhaps some of our prisoners would prefer to work outside and draw a decent [for them] salary -- maybe even a permanent job. Anyone ask them?

October 1, 2011 at 8:41 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I agree with you about the chinese products. But I think there are some jobs that middle class American folks really don't want to do.

October 1, 2011 at 9:13 p.m.
Wilder said...

@Humphrey You have bought into the Chamber of Commerce's and Catholic church's, et al, propoganda. Dalton is the model for Hispanic colonization, and Chattanooga is going down the same sorry path.

Once the lowlife employers hire a sufficient number of non-English speaking illegal aliens, the next wave of Hispanics, the bilinguals, show up. They will be taking all of the local citizens' jobs that they get their hands on. It looks like several positions have already been taken at the Times Freepress...

October 1, 2011 at 11:14 p.m.
rolando said...

So long as there is unlimited unemployment "insurance" available, Humphrey, there are quite a few jobs they won't take.

But those are not the only ones illegal aliens work...witness the housing construction business.

A dual-prong attack against illegal aliens is needed; first, against the knowing hiring of illegals, and second, the phasing out of government subsidizes for healthy workers to sit on their butts.

Alabama is on the right track. We need the same laws here. Now is the time to strike...pre-election, when our "representatives" are scared witless of us.

The Chinese problem will not go away so long as we drive our industry and our know-how over there...and keep it that way. We may not recover from that one.

October 2, 2011 at 5:19 a.m.
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