As ThinkProgress has been reporting, a federal judge’s decision last week to allow Alabama’s harshest-in-the-nation immigration law to go into effect has had heartbreaking consequences. Hispanic families have been fleeing Alabama in droves and thousands of children have been too terrorized to show up for school. The law allows police to racially profile and pull over anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally, and blatantly violates children’s constitutional right to an education by forcing schools to check students’ immigration status before they can be enrolled.
But Republican lawmakers who supported the measure have been remarkably short on compassion for immigrant families that have been torn apart. During an interview on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham’s show, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) said Hispanic children being too afraid to go to school is merely the just consequence of immigrants’ unlawful decision to live in the state:
INGRAHAM: Do you think it’s bad all these Hispanic kids have disappeared from the schools? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
SESSIONS: All I would just say to you is that it’s a sad thing that we’ve allowed a situation to occur for decades that large numbers of people are in the country illegal and it’s going to have unpleasant, unfortunate consequences.
Sessions said he “couldn’t agree more” with Ingraham when she called this a “sob story” that simply proves that “enforcement of the law works!” It’s a good thing, Ingraham suggested, that immigrants are responding by leaving Alabama. “This is a rational response,” Sessions remarked, arguing that “one of the sad consequences of illegal immigration is families can be hurt in the process” — indicating that families brought the government’s harsh crackdown on themselves by seeking a better life here.
Around 2,285 Hispanic students failed to show up for school on Monday, which amounts to 7 percent of the entire Hispanic population of the school system. On a conference call this week, Wendy Cervantes, the vice president of child rights policy at First Focus, pointed out that because federal education funding is based on attendance numbers, Alabama schools lose money every day these children don’t attend. Additionally, according to the Institute for Taxation & Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants in Alabama paid $130.3 million in state & local taxes in 2010 — money that state and local governments will have to do without if the new law succeeds in driving them from the state.
Today another Alabama Republican expressed his approval that undocumented immigrants have been driven from the state by the new law. Rep. Mo Brooks told Politico that the large number of Hispanic children not showing up for school is “the intended consequences of Alabama’s legislation with respect to illegal aliens.” He explained, “We don’t have the money in America to keep paying for the education of everybody else’s children from around the world…Second, with respect to illegal aliens who are now leaving jobs in Alabama, that’s exactly what we want.”