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The Alabama Immigration Law

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The Federal state of Alabama recently enacted a more stringent anti-immigration law under the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. Enforcement of this legislation against all odds prompted the implementation of other immigration laws across the state of Alabama (Alabama Department of Education 2011). Section 28 of the Alabama Immigration Act which is deeply embedded in the enrolment policies of states education department as summarized herein:

i)Every public school will be required to determine whether children or students enrolled at the Kindergarten, elementary or secondary levels were illegal immigrants born outside the boundaries of the United States of America. All illegal immigrant children living in the United States together with their parents, legal custodians or guardians will be reported to the Superintendent of education in all the districts of Alabama.

ii)All the public schools within the State of Alabama will register students on condition that they produce original copy of their birth certificate or any other certified documentation that confirms status of the citizenship or immigration status.

iii)If a student cannot produce the original birth certification or any other official proof that s/he was born within the state of Alabama for one reason or the other at the time of enrollment, the parents, legal custodians and guardian will be required to avail documentation or any other proof of a student’s immigration status or federal citizenship within a span 30 days.

iv)The school inspection will be carried out by the school official from time to time in all the public schools throughout the districts of Alabama to verify if students’ documentations bear the true identity of their holders. However, in the event that parents/guardian/legal custodians fail to produce all the required documentations, an individual student will be deemed an alien.  In this case, the guardians, parents or legal representatives will be required by the Act to sign a declaration indicating that a student is an illegal immigrant (Alabama Department of Education 2011).

v)The school officials will then be charged with the legal responsibility of reporting all the illegal students present in all Alabama and other states of the United States. The State Board of Education will then consolidate all the collected data of the illegal students in the Alabama public schools and submit the final list to the mandated legislature.

vi)This data will then be used to investigate the economic effects of the rising numbers of illegal students on the quality of education in both primary and secondary public schools across the state of Alabama. Pressure posed by these alien students on the learning resources such as text books, computers other supplies and other educational provisions (extracurricular activities and discounted meals) given by both the federal and state governments in Alabama will also be established for the purposes of future fiscal planning (Alabama Department of Education 2011).

Considering that the swelling populations of the illegal immigrants in Alabama and other federal states of United States, the implications of the Alabama Immigration Law is far-fetched in all spheres of the American life despite the mere fact that the legislative assembly of Alabama enacted the law to protect the taxpaying Alabama citizens from the prevailing economic menace posed by the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants.  The economic, social and political impacts of the Law will be felt by all illegal immigrants in every corner of the public and private sectors of Alabama. 

“It is quite unfortunate though that children who are born to illegal immigrants will not gain admission into the Alabama public schools once the Alabama Immigration Law is enforced as intended in the Alabama’s civil society” (Dugam, 2011). The simple locking of these children from the public schools across the district of Alabama will considerably deny this poor lot an access quality education compared to their citizen counterparts- a phenomenon that propagates chronic social and economic disparity in Alabama. Worse still, illegal children will also be discriminated against in regard to the provision of health care and other social services (Dwyer, 2004).

From the time of its enactment and eventual enforcement in September this year (2011), the social survey report conducted in Alabama to assess the impacts of the legislation reveals that the Alabama Immigration Law reveals has seen many illegal children and continuing students out of school some of which are unable to access quality healthcare services- the basic human rights that are deeply entrenched in the Federal Constitution of the United States of America. In facts and figures, more than 1,300 children are locked out of Alabama public schools out of which 572 children have been denied access to quality health care in various public healthcare institutions in Alabama on the basis of their non-citizenship (New York Times, 2011).

Secondly, illegal children, majority being from the ethnic minority, are subjected to untold magnitudes of stigma and discrimination due to their lowly immigration status.  Mere knowledge that these children and young students are aliens who are living in Alabama against the law of the state makes them develop the feelings of inferiority among their peers. It is most remarkable that psychological stigma and emotional torture caused by this kind of a discriminative law and public policies of the sort is well pronounced among the teenage students at the secondary levels of education but to a lesser extent to younger children who are not yet conscious of their ego.

The most detrimental of all, this particular bill makes it possible to track down adult illegal immigrants through their children’s registration at the Alabama‘s public schools. As such, many illegal adult immigrants, who constitute the largest percentage of Alabama labor force on the agricultural farms and industries, are living in great fear of deportation. The New York Times, reports that multitudes of the illegal immigrants are already fleeing Alabama for the fear that they might get deported to unknown destinations. Consequently, “this mass fleeing of illegal migrant, who provide the much needed human labor in the agricultural and industrial sectors, causes a significant drop in the economic productivity of the state’s economy” (Dugam 2011).

Increased government revenue: heavy presence of illegal immigrations poses much economic burden to Alabama since the cost of educating non-citizen is spread across the citizen tax payers. Similarly, keeping the increasing numbers of the non-citizens within the Alabama public school without their parents, guardians, and custodians pay taxes put much strain on the limited learning resources such as computers, text books, meals, and sports facilities in all the public schools (Jurist Legal News & Research, 2011). This highly compromises the quality of education students get from the public schools of Alabama.

Improve quality of education: to enhance the quality of education and efficiency of service delivery at the public schools, the annual fiscal planning must cater for the learning needs of both the citizen and non-citizen students alike. This can only be realized when the education officials report the number of illegal students that are enrolled in each across the districts of Alabama to the state legislature. The subsequent tracking of all illegal immigrants and taxation will allow the state to plan and provide quality education to all children.

Effective States Fiscal Planning for Education: due to high populations of illegal immigrants in Alabama (estimated at 11 million adults), the numbers of illegal children  are equally large hence they must be considered in the fiscal planning of the state if at all the education sector has to run smoothly. Therefore, for the sake of future educational fiscal planning, sustainable quality education to all children, and proper allocation of learning resources to all students (regardless of their nationality and immigration status), the educational officials must document and report all the illegal students within the public schools in Alabama.

In spite of the claims by the Alabama legislature that the immigration law is stringent enough to check the rising trends of illegal immigration into Alabama, the deputy United States Attorney General Thomas Perez is strongly opposed to the enactment and subsequent enforcement of the law on the basis that it violates the U.S. Federal laws that provides for equal educational opportunity to all children and further  protection of children’s rights in all states of the U.S. notwithstanding their race, economic, nationality, origin and social status. In the spirit of the Federal Constitution, the Alabama Immigration Law constitutes a gross violation of the documented human rights.

In his letter to superintendents of Alabama schools, Perez blatantly expresses his inherent fear that the newly enacted immigration law that demands vital information from students “might discourage or chill” participation of young people in public education. Basing his argument on the actual figures extracted from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, Perez reiterates the mere fact that children the law has drastically reduce the rate of non-citizen children’s enrollment in all public schools within the districts of Alabama. It is therefore evident that the law frustrates the goals of the U.S. Federal Department of Education that aims at attaining universal education for all by the year 2018.

On the same magnitude of disapproval, the United States Department of Justice through the Supreme Court rules the law as unconstitutional since taking into consideration its unmerited act of denying children the gains of education and learning opportunity within the districts of Alabama . The Alabama Immigration Law therefore puts the Alabama law makers on the spot for their faulty inhuman legislation not only in other federal states of U.S. but across the world.

Despite the massive denunciation Alabama Immigration Law attracts from the Federal government, foreign government and humanitarian agencies, educational officials serving within the Alabama districts are under strict directives to implement the law to the letter (Jurist Legal News & Research 2011). This phenomenon puts the educational officials in a big dilemma as to whether they should take heed of the directives as given by their law makers or uphold their professional ethics of providing education and health care services to all children and students regardless of their color, immigration status, nationality, origin, race and gender. Terry L. Cooper’s book, The Responsible Administrator, provides a fundamental guide necessary for the confrontation and address of various ethical issues revolving around the enforcement of the Act by the school officials.

According to the principles of Administrative Ethics, beneficence and social responsibility are two values that school official must uphold at any given time (Cooper, 2006). Under these two values, the school officials must always ensure that the welfare of the ethnic minority children in the public schools of Alabama is guaranteed and further protected against any possible violation similar to the one induced by the Alabama Immigration Law. Against all odds, the officials have the mandate and moral authority to promote the enrolment of illegal student within the public schools no matter the situation- this remains the noble course that surpasses any other reason as to why the illegal immigrants should be denied access to education in the public schools. Additionally, they are charged with the legal duty and an obligation to provide education to the general public particularly the vulnerable group of the ethnic minority illegal students. For this matter, their direct involvement in the enforcement of this unjust law will render them highly unethical since it is a violation of the administrative ethics.

Secondly, the aspect of justice and equality must take pre-eminence in deciding whether the law is ethical or not (Raul, 2002). Fully aware that education is a fundamental human right and that every individual is entitled to it, any action or agency that would impede on this right is regarded as unethical. As an ethical and morally upright educational official, it is not prudent checking and reporting the immigration status of a child enrolment in public schools to the District Education Board because the resultant actions of such a move will deny these innocent young students an opportunity to learn. This law will lock many illegal students out of the Alabama public schools owing to the fact they will not get registered by the education officials contrary to the federal law.

This law hence constitutes a serious breach of universal human rights which calls for education for all regardless of their immigration status, race, origin, nationality, and gender. The legislation is therefore extremely unethical because its explicit enforcement within the Alabama public schools will cut off illegal students from accessing quality education like their legal counterparts (Raul, 2002).

Finally, the enforcement of the law compromises confidentiality and privacy of personal information regarding the illegal immigrants and illegal students that the school officials supposedly safeguard in the education. The subsequent common knowledge about illegal students’ personal information as well those of their parents, custodians, and guardians, reduces their egos in schools and the wider Alabama civil society.  As a result, the illegal students suffer untold psychological torture and constant feelings of guilt. For the purposes of effective learning, the students’ ego should always be safeguarded- a simple thing the law remarkably fails to address.

Conclusion

The more stringent immigration law: the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act enacted by the Federal state of Alabama is unconstitutional and highly discriminative as it violates the right of everyone to access quality education in the state of Alabama. It is therefore unethical for the school officials whose main moral authority is to make education accessible enforce the law.

The Alabama Immigration Law takes an inhuman face since it not only fails to address the fears of the parents and illegal students in the entire Alabama but also subject illegal student to all manner of discrimination. The unethical law simply aspires to aggravate the existing discrimination against illegal students in the Alabama public schools and it deliberately fails to ensure that the rights of the vulnerable children are protected from any abuse by the public policies similar to the law.

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