Friday, November 4, 2011

AG to DOJ: Show legal authority for enrollment request

File — Luther Strange, Alabama Attorney General (Montgomery Advertiser, Lloyd Gallman)
File — Luther Strange, Alabama Attorney General (Montgomery Advertiser, Lloyd Gallman) 
 Attorney General Luther Strange told the Justice De­partment on Wednesday that unless it can show it has legal authority to ask Alabama school districts for their enroll­ment information following the state's new immigration law, he will assume it has none and "proceed accordingly."
The Justice Department is suing to block Alabama's strict new immigration law, part of which includes a provision re­quiring school districts to col­lect information on enrolling students' immigration status.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gen­eral Thomas Perez sent out let­ters to school systems Monday saying that the law "may chill or discourage participation" in school activities. It also re­quested the school systems send information on nine topics addressing enrollment, enroll­ment practices and absences by Nov.ÿ14 "to assist us in determin­ing what further action, if any, is warranted."

The department also asked districts to provide in­formation on school with­drawals and unexplained ab­sences "on a monthly basis, by the 15th of each month."

Strange wrote the Justice Department on Wednesday asking the DOJ to show where it has the power "to demand the information or compel its production."

"Otherwise, I will assume you have none, and will pro­ceed accordingly," he wrote.

Asked what "proceed ac­cordingly meant," Suzanne Webb, a spokeswoman for the Alabama attorney gener­al, said "the letter speaks for itself."
Strange noted the pending litigation, and wrote that he was "perplexed and trou­bled" that Perez, who serves with the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, had "written to Ala­bama's school superintenden­ts demanding information re­lated to the pending litigation."

Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department, said the department would review the letter.

The immigration law re­quires school districts to de­termine immigration status of enrolling students. If the district is unable to do so, parents must submit docu­mentation or a declaration carrying the penalty of per­jury stating their children are lawfully present in the United States. Without the documentation, the child would be marked as undocu­mented.

The law does not bar un­documented aliens from en­rolling in schools, and a fed­eral appeals court blocked enforcement of the provision last month.
Larry Craven, Alabama's interim state superintendent of education, said in a state­ment
.Wednesday afternoon that they would "permit the parties to resolve their out­standing issues" before mak­ing a response to the DOJ's request.
Montgomery Advertiser 

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