New immigration law having little effect here
While Alabama’s new immigration law is creating havoc for Hispanics in some areas, it is having little or no effect on schools and law enforcement in Hartselle and Morgan County.
“We have not noticed a significant drop in student enrollment since the immigration law became effective on Sept. 29,” said Bill Hopkins, superintendent of Morgan County Schools. “As of today (Oct. 6) we’ve had five students of foreign origin withdraw but had two enroll earlier in the week.
“I find this unique and puzzling in view of the fact that other school systems in the state are experiencing significant withdrawals,” he added. “I have no explanation as to why we’re not experiencing the same thing here.”
“The withdrawals we’ve had as a result of the immigration law have been very minimal,” said Dr. Mike Reed, superintendent of Hartselle City Schools.
The law is not having an impact on law enforcement practices and procedures because it is not being enforced, according to Hartselle Police Chief Ron Puckett.
“Our personnel have not received formal training on how to enforce the immigration law
and there’s a lot of gray area that needs to be addressed,” he pointed out. “We’re waiting for instructions from the State Attorney General’s office.”
Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Larry E. Craven issued a statement on Oct. 4 to clarify the immigration law as it affects enrollment and attendance in pubic schools.
“Regardless of whether or not the enrolling student has an original or certified copy of their birth certificate, the student will be enrolled and receive full participation in all of the academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs that will be offered by the local school system, Craven stated. The information that we are required to collect under the act will not be used to individually identify your child. The information will be used to report statistical data to the Legislature.
“The law does not apply to any student enrolled in an Alabama pubic school before Sept. 29, 2011. Once a student is enrolled in any school district in Alabama, they are always enrolled unless they graduate or withdraw.
“We encourage all students to stay enrolled and attend school. The Alabama Department of Education is committed to a quality education for all.”