February 4th, 2011
Native Americans Won’t Enforce Arizona’s SB1070

Leaders of Native American tribes in Arizona are charging that the laws written in that state didn’t take their sovereignty into account, and so, they passed a resolution to continue to oppose it and avoid its implementation. From a story in Arizona Capitol Times:

A resolution passed by the tribal council on June 4 states that the new law would lead to disproportionate stops and detentions for tribal members, violate their sovereignty and negatively impact the tribal economy…Enforcement of the law would force many law officers to reach the “reasonable suspicion” of illegal status for a large portion of Native Americans, whose legal presence within the U.S. has never been in question, the resolution states.

The resolution points out that English is a second language for many tribal members. And although each tribe has different laws, members of the tribes have not been required to carry their tribal membership documents, and some don’t possess a birth certificate or proper documents.

Navajo Nation Councilman Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. said Arizona’s new law violates the civil rights of members of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. He said tribal members will be disproportionately targeted because some police might conclude that they are Hispanic.

“In a way, the immigration bill is an attempt to harass Native Americans,” Begay said. “When we are pulled over or stopped we are usually pulled over and asked for our IDs. Sometimes we do not carry those things, and perhaps at that time we will have difficulty proving we are Native American.”

Begay said the new immigration law does nothing positive for Native Americans. He hypothetically asked what non-Native Americans would think of a bill they perceived as targeting them for their ethnic appearance.

Wow! That pretty much sums it up. I don’t think the state can force the tribes to enforce the laws, but then again, Arizona seems to be entirely its own world these days.

[Image By Mike Licht]

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