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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Latino Families Flee Alabama After Immigration Ruling

Jeremy Gonzalez picks tomatoes on a farm in Steele, Ala., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Much of the crop is rotting as many of the migrant workers who normally work these fields have moved to other states to find work after Alabama's immigration law took affect last week. Many farmers stand to lose much of their crops because they have no help to harvest it. (AP)

Jeremy Gonzalez picks tomatoes on a farm in Steele, Ala. Much of the crop is rotting as many of the migrant workers who normally work these fields have moved to other states to find work after Alabama's immigration law took effect last week. (AP)

There’s been an exodus of Latino immigrants from Alabama, after last week’s ruling by a federal judge upheld most of the state’s new immigration enforcement law. The fear of deportation among undocumented immigrants is making its way into the schools, which under the law now must request proof of citizenship from new students who enroll.

Bill Lawrence, principal of Foley Elementary School in Foley, Alabama told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that after hearing about the new rules, many children arrived at school afraid.

“The students came in tears, running to their teachers and crying in fear. They’re afraid that their moms and dads would not be home when they got home. Many of them were almost in hysterics,” he said.

Lawrence said as many as 45 children did not attend school that day, and dozens of parents are withdrawing their kids and fleeing.

Most of his students are U.S. citizens, but many have parents who apparently are not.

The law requires Alabama school districts to forward to the state Department of Education the names of students who fail to prove citizenship.

A spokesperson for the department, Malissa Valdes, said if students can’t provide documentation, they are “in no way prosecuted for that.” The state will forward the numbers of undocumented students, not the names, to the Legislature.

“We want them to be there, we want them to be educated,” Valdes said. Federal law requires public schools to educate undocumented children.


  • Bill Lawrence, principal of Foley Elementary School in Foley, Alabama

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Get Harveys

    Regarding interview with Alabama school district official…he uttered “…irregardless..”, which still is not a word; sad that a school official cannot speak his native tongue correctly. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Fulton/100000019043153 Dan Fulton

    Thank you for your report!
    As a retired Alabama teacher and a member of AEA and NEA,
    please know how ashamed I am of this Alabama immigration
    Some of us in Alabama share a strong disdain for the disgusting law.
    However, I live in a state with much too of this attitude:

    Consider these recent headlines:
    “UA economists see grim fourth quarter in Alabama,”
    “Immigration law impact: Hispanic students vanish from Alabama schools,”
    “Central Alabama farmers warn state immigration law leaves crops at risk.”
    It appears that no matter how rotten the Alabama economy and its schools, nor how rotten the unpicked crops in its fields,
    Alabama is determined and steadfast:
    “Audemus jura nostra defendere — We Dare Defend Our Rights.”
    Shout out this Republican declaration from the fertile sands of Alabama’s Sand Mountain
    to the once brilliantly white sands of its tar-balled Gulf Shores:
    As Alabamians we must sacrifice for the “right” and “justice” and indeed “liberty.”
    Rather than sharing the goodness and blessings of
    fresh foods, jobs, and economic prosperity, we must
    embrace the grand yet simple wisdom of these four words:
    Better Rot AND  “Right.”

    Indeed, “right”  here is just stupid, shortsighted, and defies common sense.
    Yes, wicked, evil, and immoral might better describe.

  • steve

     The “listen” link for this report on the home page is wrong. It leads to the whole show MP3. The “listen” link on the webpage on the webpage dedicated to this webpage is correct. 

    (Btw, Robin, please talk to your techies to request the development of an NPR-like playlist-supporting media player — or at least request that direct download links for the MP3s are displayed next to all “listen” links. Otherwise, we must click “listen” then wait for the player window to appear, then click the MP3 download link on that window. And if we want to listen to a series of segments from different shows/dates, then we must do this repeatedly for each segment we want to hear, then go to the download folder, then create a playlist using our preferred media player, then play. This is not at all convenient. Esp compared to NPR’s player, which permits users to create playlists online via the website itself.)

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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