Civil rights groups’ attempt to block Alabama immigration provisions denied

Law sparks major decline this week in Hispanic students’ school attendance

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and civil rights organizations filed a motion to request a block on certain provisions in Alabama’s immigration law that has triggered a decline in thousands of Hispanic students from attending school in the state.

The request follows a ruling from last week in which U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld significant sections of Alabama’s immigration law that require schools to verify students’ immigration status prior to enrollment and allows police officers to arrest individuals they suspect could be illegal immigrants during routine stops. These two contentious provisions have sparked anger and fear since last week’s ruling.

Judge Blackburn did compromise on some accounts and granted the Obama administration’s request to block some elements of the law. She temporarily blocked provisions that made it a crime to transport or harbor illegal immigrants, and restricted illegal immigrants from searching for and performing work, until a final ruling at a later date.

After more than 2,000 Hispanic students missed school this Monday, Alabama’s acting State Superintendent of Education, Larry Craven, released a statement Tuesday saying that although the state’s law requires students to present their birth certificates at the time of enrollment, all students will be admitted to academic classes and extra-curricular activities in the school system, regardless of if they have a copy of their certificate.  

Civil rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, plan to file an emergency request with the 11th Circuit to block the law, pending the outcome of the DOJ’s appeal of Judge Blackburn’s ruling. 

Danielle Feinstein

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