Monday, April 15, 2024

Arizona Now Taking Aim at School Children

Under the leadership of its State Senate President, Russell Pearce, Arizona continues its attacks against immigrants, this time taking aim at school children by tightening identification requirements for school enrollment.

Pearce, the author of the state’s controversial SB 1070, introduced a new set of immigration measures yesterday. 

As reported in Arizona Family, his newest bill, SB 1611, would increase identification requirements for enrollment in public schools and other public services; make it a crime for undocumented persons to drive a vehicle in Arizona; and toughen a state order requiring employers to verify eligibility of new hires.

The new requirements for students, however, may directly contradict a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision which affirms public schools may not turn away students who are unable to prove legal residency.

Currently, a parent only has to provide proof of a child’s age, which most do with a certified copy of a birth certificate; the birth certificate does not have to be from the U.S.

However, if the new proposal was to be signed into law, Arizona school children would have to supply U.S. issued documents such as a birth certificate, passport, or a certificate of naturalization. School administrators also would be put in the position of having to report parents who fail to provide such documentation making them de facto immigration officials.

Opponents of Pearce’s proposal, including school administrators, fear that if passed, the policy will simply result in parents pulling their children out of school for fear of being questioned about their immigration status.

Michael Martinez and Jeffrey Smith, superintendents of the Cartwright and Balsz School Districts, agreed that the immigration laws have had an impact on their schools’ enrollment numbers. After Arizona’s 2007 employer sanction law went into effect, Balsz said parents told him they were leaving the state because they were unable to find work.

The Ahwatukee Foothills News also cites numbers from the Arizona Department of Education revealing the steady decline in school enrollment numbers since 2007 in many Phoenix districts with large Hispanic populations.

Decreased enrollment means fewer federal dollars going to these school districts at a time when public services across the country, including Arizona, are strapped for cash.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up SB 1611 on Tuesday, as well as several of other immigration measures.

Arizona Family

Ahwatukee Foothill News