Vol. LIV No. 1

School Attrition Through Enforcement: Title VI Disparate Impact and Verification of Student Immigration Status

Abstract:  In recent years, efforts in state legislatures to enact comprehensive immigration regulations have become increasingly pervasive. When Alabama enacted a comprehensive immigration law in 2011, it became only the third state in three decades to require public school personnel to inquire into schoolchildren’s immigration status. Although section 28 of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act differed significantly from its two more restrictive predecessors, which expressly denied a free public education to unlawfully present children, all three laws have been invalidated on equal protection grounds. Despite that result, this Note argues that the differences between Alabama’s provision and its predecessors may allow other state laws modeled after section 28 to survive constitutional scrutiny in the future. Consequently, this Note maintains that federal regulations promulgated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit actions by recipients of federal funding that have a disproportionately adverse impact on individuals on the basis of their race, color, or national origin, provide a more promising avenue for the federal government to challenge state laws patterned on section 28 that tend to chill educational opportunity for Hispanic students.

:: View PDF