Arizona Immigration Law
Will Punish Kids the Most

Regardless where you stand on Arizona’s illegal immigrant bill, which puts pressure on police to identify and arrest suspected aliens, this state’s children will be the biggest losers when the law soon goes into affect.

There are obvious reasons: Children face the risk of deportation along with parents. Or parents might be arrested and deported without their children. And children will pay the price for the portion of law that allows the state to recoup legal fees from already impoverished parents.

There is another problem, though, that is only now making the news. Like other states, police officers are assigned to public school campuses. Under federal rules, schools must provide an education to all children, legal or not. From educators’ perspective, these rules apply to the on-campus police.

But Russell Pearce, the state senator who authored SB 1070, wants campus police officers investigating children who they suspect being illegal immigrants, reports the Arizona Capitol Times.

Says Pearce:

“To assume that schools are areas protected from enforcing the law is simply not correct. If you have a legitimate suspicion that a person is breaking the law, you have to investigate it.”

Already there have been stories that immigrants are keeping their kids out of school. Other stories reveal that parents are moving out of state.

“People are getting really scared,” Adam Lopez Falk, a board member of the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix, tells the Capitol Times. “I’ve had parents come to my house and ask, ‘Is it safe to bring my kids to school? Is it safe to have my kids in school at all? Are the police going to come and round them up?’… A lot of them are ready to leave or move out of Arizona.”

A Mesa school teacher I recently met says the district isn’t sure how to handle the new law, which kicks in before the school season begins. Will parents stop coming to teacher conferences – already a big problem for teachers of immigrant children – even if the kids remain in school?

At least some police seem none to happy about the law either. Writes the Capital Times:

Sgt. Jeff Young, who oversees all of the school resource officers in Phoenix, said they are not at school to investigate students as criminals. Their role is to develop positive community relationships, so crime can be prevented instead of investigated, he said.

“The one thing we definitely do not want to have is the kids afraid of us,” Young said.

By the way, chasing immigrants out of Arizona’s public schools is no accident:

If S1070 doesn’t scare illegal immigrants out of the school system, (Pearce) said he’ll force them out next year by drafting legislation to deny free public education to students who cannot prove they are U.S. citizens.

“We’ll have less crime and spend less money on supporting law breakers,” Pearce said.

As you may have heard, Peace also wants to prevent U.S. born-children of immigrants becoming automatic U.S. citizens. Under Pearce’s reasoning, I’d be an illegal alien because my great grandparents were born in Europe.

More importantly, Pearce seems determined to create an uneducated population within our borders even though it’s plain to all that the majority of immigrants are here to stay:

“It’s likely to drive an increase in juvenile crime,” (said Randy Capps, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute). “You might even see an increase in gang activity. They’ll have idle time, and they’ll be resentful of school and law enforcement, and this would build further resentment against authority.”

While it may not be part of Pearce’s plan, his legal attack on immigrants seems destined to create an educationally weak subgroup within our society. That subgroup may find itself vulnerable to attack and abuse. And as someone of Jewish ancestry, I can honestly say that history is replete with examples of why allowing this to happen is a horrible idea.

5 thoughts on “Arizona Immigration Law
Will Punish Kids the Most

  1. unprejudiced

    Obviously this is a huge and very emotional issue. I fully support legal immigration. I believe that immigrant populations should be afforded the rights and protections under the U.S. law which brought them here. I also believe that a country has a right to control it’s borders. I won’t solve this debate and I don’t know what will, but I don’t think that it is helpful when people attack any attempt to curtail illegal immigration as anti-immigrant. You state: “chasing immigrants out of Arizona’s public schools is no accident” and “legal attack on immigrants” but you have omitted (intentionally?) the VERY important qualifier “illegal” from your statements. I agree that there are impacts to legal immigrants and that is a truly unfortunate byproduct of this aggressive legislation. But if we are going to make progress on this debate, I think all sides need to be clear in their characterizations and avoid demonizing those whose opinions and actions we disagree with.

  2. brettdl

    Well, I used the word illegal earlier, so I was just avoiding using the term over and over. But here’s the thing, in my mind at least, illegal is irrelevant when it comes to children.
    Children cannot be “illegal” just for being who and where they are. It’s a form of dehumanizing I find repugnant. How can you declare a child illegal if their parents brought or sent them over?
    And what is illegal? I would run across the border, too, if my home country was impoverished. Is trying to survive a crime?
    But more importantly: Whenever any group of people — children or adult — are dehumanized, bad things follow. It’s a scary state of mind that allows us to do things we shouldn’t to other people.
    But it’s a moot point. Most illegal aliens already here are here to stay. The real danger is failing to educate the children, because that creates a entrenched, bitter underclass that will cause more problems down the road than just educating the kids properly today.


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