MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The U.S. Justice Department is requesting that school districts in Alabama turn over enrollment information about all students as part of a federal lawsuit challenging the state's tough new immigration law.
The department sent letters Monday to 39 school superintendents seeking lists that include students' race and national origin, as well as whether English is their primary language. Justice department attorneys also are seeking the names of students who have withdrawn from school and the dates they left.
The Obama administration is concerned that the law enacted by Alabama's GOP-controlled Legislature this year may chill student participation. The agency wants the information to determine if further action is warranted.
Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said the letter went to districts with significant Hispanic populations. Alabama has 132 districts.
Federal courts have put on hold a portion of Alabama's law that requires schools to report the number, but not the names, of students whose immigration status is in question.
State Sen. Scott Beason, a Gardendale Republican who sponsored the law, said the Justice Department's letter shows the importance of compiling information. "They are asking for the same student information we tried to get. They are proving our point," he said.
He said the law sought statistics only and did not deny enrollment to any illegal immigrant.