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Appeals court curtails Alabama immigration law, for now

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The court action Friday was a good one, he says, because “there was too much junk” in the law. People were so confused that some families thought a school resource officer would be showing up at their doors to take their children into custody.

State education officials and local organizations have tried to spread the word that the school provision applies only to new students and exists simply to report the numbers of undocumented students to the state. Indeed, many students who originally disappeared from Crossville Elementary have come back to school, Mr. Burke says. Only about 20 remain absent.

Still, the school portion of the law is “standing on the shakiest constitutional grounds,” says Prof. Deep Gulasekaram, an assistant professor at Santa Clara University School of Law in California.

Ultimately, the Alabama law could be challenged in the US Supreme Court, which would have to consider its own 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision affirming the rights of undocumented children to have a free public education.

Aside from the harm it would cause children to be uneducated, Mr. Gulasekaram says, it wouldn’t benefit society if illegal immigrants feared sending their children to school, leading to a “permanent underclass of people.”

The Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature passed the immigration law earlier this year. A US district judge prevented some of it from going into effect, and now the appeals court has blocked some of the remaining portions. Those legal setbacks are not the final word, however, and Gov. Robert Bentley (R) on Friday repeated his vow "to fight to see this law upheld."

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