On Wednesday, the Alabama Attorney General questioned the legal authority of the U.S. Justice Department to obtain information about the enrollment of students in various school districts of Alabama as part of his legal challenge of the recently imposed immigration law in that state.
The Obama administration had expressed fear with regards to the law of the undermining of student enrollment. The department requests this information from the schools to see if any other action is necessary.
Attorney General Luther Strange sent out a letter on Wednesday to the Department of Justice in which he demands to know by what legal means the department is able to request such information from schools. Strange also demanded he have a response by Friday, November 4th.
Strange stated that if he was not given an answer he would thereby assume the department had no such right, and would “proceed accordingly”. No further details were given in terms of his next steps.
The interim superintendent of Alabama schools, Larry Craven, advised school principals not to give out any information to the Department of Justice until all differences are settled with the Attorney General.
On Monday, the Department of Justice sent out letters to 39 school principals ordering them to forward lists of students with disclosure of ethnicity, nationality and a list of native English speakers. The lawyers of the department further asked that a list of names be given for all the students who withdrew from the schools recently and the dates on which they did. This letter was sent out mainly to districts where the hispanic population was predominant.
Federal courts had suspended parts of the Alabama law that demanded schools to disclose a number of students whose immigration status was irregular. However, the law does demand that the schools release the names of the students enrolled.
Proponents of the law say that the recent demands do not seek to bear any consequence upon illegal immigrants, and insist that they are only looking to gather statistics.