Civil rights leaders in Alabama and across the nation are expressing concern that the severe lack of stability created in Latino families by the state’s new anti-immigrant law, H.B. 56, has led to a humanitarian crisis in Alabama.
During a press conference lead by the National Immigration Forum Thursday, Alabama educators and community leaders agreed that the major problem with this law is that children are bearing the weight of the suffering due to a part of the law that instructs schools to inquire about every student’s immigration status.
This week alone the state’s implementation of the law has led to thousands of students staying home from school in fear of repercussions from the state. And in at least one instance, as reported by Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Latino children were asked to assemble in their school cafeteria and then raise their hands to indicate whether or not they were born in the United States.
Other reports show increased incidents of bullying and high amounts distress among children afraid of having to leave their schools, homes, and friends due to the threat of deportation.
H.B. 56, signed into law by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on June 16, is widely considered by many civil and human rights and immigration advocates to be the most draconian law of its kind in the nation. Civil rights groups are appealing a federal court judge’s recent decision to uphold the most harmful provisions of the law, including the provision requiring schools to check a student’s immigration status.