Nafsa appeals to attorney general to protect right to education

The US attorney general has been asked by a senior higher education representative to intervene to tackle the “chilling effects” of anti-immigration laws at a state level.

October 8, 2011

Marlene Johnson, executive director and chief executive officer of Nafsa, the Association of International Educators, has written to Eric Holder asking him to “immediately take action” against the states of Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.

The letter outlines concerns that local legislatures could hinder the educational opportunities of some immigrants, both at secondary and tertiary level.

Ms Johnson warns that the toughening of regulations risks creating a “patchwork of state-level immigration laws” that will create an atmosphere of fear among immigrants.

“This is not who we are as a nation,” she writes.

In July 2010, a federal judge intervened in the implementation of a bill signed into law by Arizona governor Jan Brewer, which would have required state law enforcement agencies to make efforts to determine immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” if there was “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an illegal alien.

In her letter to the Attorney General, Ms Johnson says that legal arguments made during the proceedings against the Arizona bill could equally be applied to the other four states.

“The power to regulate immigration is vested exclusively in the federal government, a constitutionally mandated responsibility that preempts the right of individual states to enact laws in this area,” she argues.

The state of Alabama recently overcame legal challenges to its own immigration bill, and schools within the public school system are now required to declare the suspected number of illegal immigrants studying at each institution.

Although the law does not bar the students from attending the schools, there has been a reported drop in the number of Hispanic students attending public schools.

Another measure in the original bill, barring illegal immigrants from attending public colleges or universities, was blocked by the federal district court.

Calling on the federal government to “reclaim its exclusive authority to establish and implement US immigration law,” Ms Johnson says that, traditionally, the US has been “in our values and our history, a welcoming nation”.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

Participants enjoying bubble soccer

Critics call proposal for world-first professional recognition system ‘demented’