Alabama Immigration Law: State Attorney General Balks At Feds' School Enrollment Data Request

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, November 4, 2011

Alabama's attorney general is questioning the U.S. Justice Department's legal authority to get enrollment information about all students in many Alabama school districts as part of its federal lawsuit challenging the state's tough new immigration law.

Attorney General Luther Strange sent a letter to the Justice Department on Wednesday asking to be told by Friday what legal authority the department had to get the information.

"Otherwise, I will assume you have none, and will proceed accordingly," the Republican attorney general wrote. He did not elaborate on his next step.

Alabama's interim school superintendent, Larry Craven, advised school superintendents to hold off on providing any information to the Justice Department until the department and the attorney general resolve their differences.

The Justice Department sent letters Monday to 39 school superintendents seeking lists that include the race and national origin of students, as well as whether English is their primary language. Justice Department attorneys also want the names of students who have withdrawn from school and the dates they left.

The Obama administration is concerned that the law enacted by Alabama's GOP-controlled legislature this year may discourage students from going to school. The agency wants the information to determine if further action is warranted.

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