Opinion: Alabama’s harsh immigration reform law


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It’s clear that contention over immigration has moved beyond the coasts and border states. Alabama’s new law concerning illegal immigrants is one of the harshest enacted thus far in the U.S. and brings the legal status of schoolchildren, and their parents by extension, into the debate. The editorial board weighed in Friday on the side of the kids, calling the failed attempts to implement comprehensive national immigration policy unacceptable.

Asking students to reveal that they or their parents are undocumented isn’t the same as barring them from attending classes, which would be patently illegal. The result, however, will not be all that different. Many parents will opt to pull their children out of school rather than risk disclosing their status and being arrested.


We understand that states, especially those along the border with Mexico, are frustrated by the government’s apparent indifference to a broken immigration system. That has spurred states to adopt their own fixes. But it’s hard to fathom how lawmakers could think that discouraging children from going to school is a sensible solution.

Readers are at odds about Alabama’s law and whether it unfairly criminalizes illegal immigration or is a positive step toward curbing a serious problem:

It’s not fair for legal citizens to foot the bill for illegal immigrants

Does anyone not remember that these people have a native country where their children should be attending school? This law does not deny their children a free education at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, just requires that it be documented who the foreign freeloaders are, and I think every citizen deserves to know where their tax dollars are going. I’m sure Mexico would not pay for my kids’ education. -- chart

It’s one thing to be an illegal immigrant; quite another to be a criminal

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT CRIMINALS. Its a Civil Matter. The whole thing is perplexing to people who don’t understand that being an illegal immigrant in and of itself is not a crime. The most pervasive comments made in news stories about Secure Communities go a little like this: ‘Illegal immigrants are what they’re called -- they’re considered criminals by mere definition. Illegals who broke a bunch of laws to enter and live here should be subjected to immediate arrest and deportation -- that’s fair for everyone.’That’s not accurate, but a lot of people have that same misunderstanding -- even law enforcement professionals.During a teleconference last month on the troubles that Secure Communities is bringing to local law enforcement agencies, a few sheriffs on the call commiserated about their misunderstanding of immigration violations.’I was always told it was a felony federal violation of law and was always under the impression that turning over any illegal immigrants (to ICE) was mandated by federal law -- and so did my employees,’ said Sheriff Ed Prieto of Yolo County, Calif. ‘But after we met with the Mexican consulate in Sacramento we learned it’s not. Then I started looking into how many of our people are being deported before trial and I became very uncomfortable contacting ICE for nonviolent offenders.’ -- ArrchieBunker


Why would anyone choose to live in Alabama?

Let’s see ... I brave border crossings, or float over on a door, or something like this just so I can get a better life somewhere else and then I go to ... Alabama???? To get a better life for my kids??? Somewhere that always ranks like 49th or 50th in EVERYTHING in the United States? Really? And now this State wants to keep even more people out? I actually laughed out loud reading this! My first advice to any immigrant, legal or illegal, would be to AVOID states like Alabama and come to the coasts for both their sake and their kids sakes. I suggest people read the Statue of Liberty up close at some point in their lives. We’re all immigrants here, and none of us were exactly ‘legal’ if you really want to get all technical about it. Alabama isn’t about legality ... it’s about keeping their population less ‘brown’. So why don’t we just call a spade a spade here? -- skyguy112233

Americans deserve the jobs that illegal alien workers get

When you get back into the Midwest, you’ll find that all the jobs you list, plus tree trimmers, landscapers, etc. are filled by Americans. It’s amazing how many jobs that ‘Americans won’t do’ are, in fact, done by Americans when the labor force isn’t overrun with illegal alien workers. -- Kurfco

Alabama should be cheered and California jeered

I live in Alabama where I relocated from California last summer. Alabama is to be commended for trying to get a grip on their illegal immigrant problem before it reaches epidemic proportions like I experienced while living in California. Bottom line; California has nothing to teach the rest of the nation regarding this problem other than how not to deal with it. -- hawk20


Don’t blame Alabama for putting kids in the crossfire; blame their parents

Alabama didn’t put the children in the crossfire of the illegal immigration issue. The kids parents put them in the crossfire. Alabama is just trying to protect their state from the invasion of the illegals -- Warren

I’m Mexican, and I agree with these comments

Being an educated Mexican living the US legally I will have to agree many of the comments on this article. We should get all the illegals together and send them back to where they came from. Illegals from Mexico, Canada, Central & South America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Why should this country educate the children of illegals, why should this country pay parents to help raise their children. This country should do whatever it needs to do to stop illegal immigration and just take care of itself. And if this country does that, which it seems farfetched that it will, we will all need to live with the consequences of this. Nobody is allowed to […] complain that there will no longer be many individuals willing to work the farms, work menial jobs in restaurants, take care of our kids and other jobs that US citizens and legal residents find themselves too good to do. So let’s get it done, move forward and live in a world where money, power and sex are more important than anything else. -- jaceja10

*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.


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Graphic: Paul Duginski, Los Angeles Times / June 9, 2011