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Hispanic Alabama Schoolchildren Face Bullying in the Wake of Anti-Immigrant Law

Monday, 24 October 2011 05:31 By Ian Millhiser, Think Progress | Report

In a sadly predictable development, Hispanic public school students in Alabama — some of whom are United States citizens — are now facing racially motivated bullying in the wake of the state’s unconstitutional attack on undocumented school children:

It was just another schoolyard basketball game until a group of Hispanic seventh-graders defeated a group of boys from Alabama. . . . “They told them, `You shouldn’t be winning. You should go back to Mexico‘” . . . .

Machine shop manager Hector Conde said his family has seen the problem firsthand. Conde, whose family lives in Autauga County north of Montgomery, was appalled when his 12-year-old daughter, Monica Torres, told him a schoolmate called her a “damn Mexican” during a school bus ride.

“She is a citizen. She doesn’t even speak Spanish,” said Conde, a U.S. citizen originally from Puerto Rico. “The culture being created (by the law) is that this sort of thing is OK.”

A Hispanic woman said her 13-year-old niece was called a “stupid Mexican” and told to “go back to Mexico” by a classmate in Walker County.

For the time being, the provision of the Alabama law requiring public schools to check the students’ immigration status cannot be enforced due to a federal court order. But these bullying incidents are further proof that the law does not need to be upheld by the judiciary in order to succeed in its goal of making Alabama inhospitable to certain kinds of people. When the state government places its official sanction on anti-immigrant bullying, it shouldn’t be surprised when people take matters into their own hands.

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Nor is this kind of activity limited to children. After a Birmingham, Alabama restaurant owner complained that some of his legal immigrant workers were quitting their jobs in part because they no longer feel welcome in Alabama, his restaurant faced a boycott campaign and a rush of hate mail attacking him for “suporting [sic] those dam [sic] wetback [sic] that are ruining our country.”

Thousands of immigrant schoolchildren stopped going to school when the anti-immigrant law briefly went into effect, even though the Constitution guarantees their right to an education. Local businesses face harassment because they dared to employ fully legal workers who happen to be Hispanic — and they are struggling to replace the many workers who have fled the state. Crops are rotting in the state’s fields because the states farm workers are being driven out of the state. Alabama’s immigration law isn’t just a cruel attack on the undocumented, it is an indirect assault on the state’s economy and on countless Alabama residents who are in the state legally.

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received his JD from Duke University and clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His writings have appeared in a diversity of publications, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, the American Prospect and the Yale Law & Policy Review.


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Hispanic Alabama Schoolchildren Face Bullying in the Wake of Anti-Immigrant Law

Monday, 24 October 2011 05:31 By Ian Millhiser, Think Progress | Report

In a sadly predictable development, Hispanic public school students in Alabama — some of whom are United States citizens — are now facing racially motivated bullying in the wake of the state’s unconstitutional attack on undocumented school children:

It was just another schoolyard basketball game until a group of Hispanic seventh-graders defeated a group of boys from Alabama. . . . “They told them, `You shouldn’t be winning. You should go back to Mexico‘” . . . .

Machine shop manager Hector Conde said his family has seen the problem firsthand. Conde, whose family lives in Autauga County north of Montgomery, was appalled when his 12-year-old daughter, Monica Torres, told him a schoolmate called her a “damn Mexican” during a school bus ride.

“She is a citizen. She doesn’t even speak Spanish,” said Conde, a U.S. citizen originally from Puerto Rico. “The culture being created (by the law) is that this sort of thing is OK.”

A Hispanic woman said her 13-year-old niece was called a “stupid Mexican” and told to “go back to Mexico” by a classmate in Walker County.

For the time being, the provision of the Alabama law requiring public schools to check the students’ immigration status cannot be enforced due to a federal court order. But these bullying incidents are further proof that the law does not need to be upheld by the judiciary in order to succeed in its goal of making Alabama inhospitable to certain kinds of people. When the state government places its official sanction on anti-immigrant bullying, it shouldn’t be surprised when people take matters into their own hands.

Fight corporate influence by keeping independent media strong! Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to Truthout.

Nor is this kind of activity limited to children. After a Birmingham, Alabama restaurant owner complained that some of his legal immigrant workers were quitting their jobs in part because they no longer feel welcome in Alabama, his restaurant faced a boycott campaign and a rush of hate mail attacking him for “suporting [sic] those dam [sic] wetback [sic] that are ruining our country.”

Thousands of immigrant schoolchildren stopped going to school when the anti-immigrant law briefly went into effect, even though the Constitution guarantees their right to an education. Local businesses face harassment because they dared to employ fully legal workers who happen to be Hispanic — and they are struggling to replace the many workers who have fled the state. Crops are rotting in the state’s fields because the states farm workers are being driven out of the state. Alabama’s immigration law isn’t just a cruel attack on the undocumented, it is an indirect assault on the state’s economy and on countless Alabama residents who are in the state legally.

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received his JD from Duke University and clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His writings have appeared in a diversity of publications, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, the American Prospect and the Yale Law & Policy Review.


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