On September 28th, 2011, the most sweeping anti-immigration law in the country went into effect in Alabama. The law, HB 56, has already had harsh and sweeping consequences—hurting not only undocumented immigrants but legal residents, native-born U.S. citizens, and the state’s reputation on the national stage. HB 56 has created a climate of hostility for Hispanics and immigrants that has caused many of them to flee the state or lock themselves in their houses, while devastating Alabama’s agriculture and construction industries and creating massive bureaucratic hassles for citizens who are just trying to get their vehicle tags renewed.
While the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Alabama to stop enforcing two provisions of the law on October 14th, the damage they caused may be irreversible—and the rest of the law remains in effect. What’s truly shocking, though, is that not only have the law’s defenders failed to express concern about its consequences on Alabama families, but they’re proud of them—and say the law is working as intended.
Here are ten things to know about the new Alabama anti-immigration law:
1. Children are too afraid to risk going to school. One provision of HB 56 forces teachers and school administrators to check not only the immigration status of all new students, but also the status of their parents. While the 11th Circuit Court ruled on October 14th that Alabama had to temporarily stop enforcing this provision, it was in full effect for over two weeks of classes and is still a part of Alabama law. Some schools interrogated previously enrolled students as well; the Birmingham News reported that one school even called Hispanic students into the cafeteria and asked them to publicly disclose the legal status of their parents.
And Hispanic students weren’t the only ones who felt targeted: school counselor Roseann Rodriguez told Huffington Post that “My sixth graders of African American descent were asking me if they were going to have to go back to Africa.” As of October 7th, at least 2,300 children were missing from Alabama schools. All of these children are constitutionally guaranteed a right to an education; many of them are native-born U.S. citizens whose parents happen to be undocumented.