Alabama's 'vanishing' Hispanics: Proof that harsh immigration laws work?

Immigrant families rush to leave the Yellowhammer State — which is now enforcing an immigration law that might be the nation's toughest

Despite thousands of protesters rallying against the strict Alabama immigration law earlier this year, House Bill 87 went into effect this week and some Hispanic families have since fled the
(Image credit: Erik Lesser/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

As soon as Alabama's tough new immigration law took effect over the weekend, Hispanic families immediately started "vanishing" from towns across the state. The law — which is seen as harsher even than Arizona's — allows police officers to demand immigration papers during routine traffic stops, and requires schools to document the legal status of children upon enrollment. School administrators insisted that the information would only be used for statistical purposes — not to nab illegal immigrants — but attendance among Hispanic students has already dropped dramatically. Does the exodus prove that tough immigration laws do exactly what they're supposed to do?

Obviously, tough laws work: "How about that?" says Neil Braithwaite at The American Thinker. Alabama's strict new law is doing just what its advocates promised — "deterring illegal aliens from moving to Alabama, and in this case, persuading illegals already in Alabama to move out." And the solution "didn't cost the citizens of Alabama one red cent." This proves the U.S. can keep out illegal immigrants without putting fences and legions of guards on the border — we just need to adopt strict federal rules, and enforce them.

"Not so sweet home Alabama"

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Alabama is creating problems, not solving them: The "reckless hunt for undocumented immigrants" is doing more harm than good, says Eric K. Ward at The Progressive. State lawmakers are forcing local police departments and schools to divert scarce resources to enforce this law. Worse, "Alabama could lose almost 18,000 jobs and approximately $2.6 billion" as immigrant entrepreneurs and consumers seek more friendly places to live. And farmers who depend on immigrant labor may watch their crops "dying on the vine." Some solution.

"Recent immigration laws disadvantage us all"

Whether the law works or not, it's wrong: If the Alabama legislature's intention was to make "children too frightened to go to school," says The New York Times in an editorial, then, yes, it works like a charm. The trouble is, that's unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that all children in the U.S. have a right to an education regardless of their immigration status. The unnecessarily harsh laws imposed by Alabama and so many other states violate everything America is supposed to stand for. The Obama administration should keep suing to stop this "counterproductive cruelty."

"Alabama's shame"

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