While school districts are not directly addressed in the immigration law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday, they are “political subdivisions” which could share information with law enforcement groups.
“It does appear the bill is encouraging information sharing, but it does not require it,” Annie Lai, staff attorney for the Phoenix office of the ACLU, told the Tribune earlier in the week, prior to Brewer’s signing of the law.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion about what might happen,” Lai said. “It’s impossible for any of us to predict how schools or any governmental institution will interpret this law. I don’t see the law as telling schools they need to collect this information, particularly because it would appear to violate state guidance and federal court cases.”
A 1978 Arizona Attorney General opinion states that schools cannot ask about immigration status and cannot condition enrollment on providing proof of lawful immigration. Schools can only ask where a person resides.
“If the question is, ‘Should parents still enroll their kids in school?’ the answer is yes,” Lai said.
Mesa Unified School District’s community liaison Deanna VillaNueva-Saucedo said earlier this week that parents often call schools when immigration laws or issues arise.
“Whenever this type of legislation comes up or (Sheriff Joe Arpaio) has immigration sweeps, I have parents making concerns, ‘What is this is going to do to the climate?’ or “What’s it going to do to the family?’” she said.
VillaNueva-Saucedo did not have a number of inquiries.
“I have not had a lot of calls, but it is a topic of discussion with a lot of community members,” she said.