Ira Mehlman

DOJ’s request does not appear to be predicated on any documented violations of anyone’s civil rights. The section of HB 56 which would have required Alabama schools to collect data about citizenship status of students who enroll was one of two provisions that the 11th Circuit blocked from taking effect. (How Alabama is supposed to provide DOJ data about national origin if they’re not allowed to ask that information is not quite clear.) Moreover, a 1982 Supreme Court decision requires that states provide free K-12 education to students irrespective of immigration status.

HB 56 has, no doubt, resulted in the withdrawal of students from Alabama schools who are either illegal aliens or the dependent children of illegal aliens. But that fact does not imply civil rights violations. Rather, it is a direct consequence of the law – ruled to be constitutional by the 11th Circuit – working as intended. Illegal aliens are getting the message and moving out of Alabama, taking their kids with them.

The fact that illegal aliens are leaving Alabama in significant numbers (much as they have done in other places where local enforcement policies have been implemented) is the biggest concern for an administration whose policy objective is amnesty, not enforcement. Every time a state government demonstrates that illegal aliens are indeed rational people, who respond rationally to signals that illegal immigration will not be countenanced, it undermines the specious argument that the only solution to the problem is mass amnesty.

As the administration wages its effort to halt most enforcement of immigration laws and to secure amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who are here, DOJ has been turned into a political attack dog, unleashed on any state or local government that dares to get in the administration’s way. When lawsuits fail, because courts determine that states are acting legally, DOJ is sending a clear message that its civil right division will be there to drain additional state resources with retaliatory demands for data.


Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.



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