Scott Beason always defended Section 28, the “your paper’s, please” for school enrollment provision of HB56, as quite benign:
According to Beason and other supporters of the law, Alabama taxpayers deserve an accurate assessment of how much they pay to educate the children of illegal immigrants.
I disputed this claim and suggested that the purpose was much for ambitious.
So it is not really just about statistics and when AG Luther Strange argued before a federal court that: “No child will be denied an education based on unlawful status,” he should have added “not yet.
The real purpose of Section 28 was to enable “a fresh challenge to Plyler v. Doe, and the idea that schools are obligated to provide a free education to illegal immigrants.”
Well, Luther Strange, the ALGOP Alabama Attorney General, admitted as much yesterday in his belated call to significantly revise HB56.
Section 28, which has also been blocked by the Eleventh Circuit, allows collection of data about the number of undocumented immigrants or their children in Alabama schools and requires a report of the costs of educating those students — both in fiscal terms and the effect on the quality of education on other students — to the Legislature, but makes it clear that those students cannot be denied a public education. Some have speculated that the purpose of this endless data collection was to eventually mount a legal challenge to various federal government requirements regarding who deserves a public school education, and the attorney general’s letter lends some credence to that argument.
“It is my understanding that the purpose of Section 28 was to collect data for future litigation involving the State,” Strange wrote. “As chief law officer for the State, my judgment is that the costs of gathering this data at this point in time, in terms of diversion of resources and the effect this section has had on the current litigation, far outweigh any need to gather data for future litigation.
Strange suggested that section should be repealed.