Alabama's strict new rules on illegal immigration went into effect this week, and the fallout has been immediate at schools around the state: Hispanic students are staying away in droves, reports the AP. The rules require schools to check incoming students' immigration status. Even though they shouldn't affect students already enrolled and even though state officials insist the stats will be anonymous and are intended only to get a better handle on the costs of educating illegal-immigrant kids, Hispanic families without the proper documentation apparently aren't taking chances.
In Montgomery County, for example, 200 Hispanic students were absent Thursday, the day after the rules got legal clearance. Civil rights groups and the White House plan legal challenges. “This will have an incredibly chilling effect on children and on parents,” the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center tells the Christian Science Monitor. "It turns school officials and other government officials into, kind of, immigration agents, and that’s a terrible message for kids and families.” (Read more Alabama stories.)