The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona has sent a letter to Arizona’s Governor stating the concerns of Native communities regarding the state’s new criminal laws pertaining to illegal immigration. The law, S.B. 1070, makes it a crime to be in Arizona without legal immigration status, and requires police to check suspects for residency paperwork. It also bans solicitation of work and hiring day laborers off the street.
“We have a range of concerns, including tribal sovereign nations not being recognized as able to define and protect their own borders as they see fit, and the possibility that tribal citizens will be profiled by police,” said John Lewis, director of the organization. “This impacts all indigenous people, and the lawmakers need to know it,” Lewis said. “America’s boundaries are not tribal boundaries.”
Lewis noted that some tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, are on and near the U.S.-Mexico border. “Our tribes have much interaction with Mexico, through culture and life, and I’m not sure people realize that there’s an economic impact involved as well.”
Ian Record, education manager with the Native Nations Institute, said he is concerned that he could be targeted, since his truck has a “Latinos for Obama” sticker on it. “It’s scary that something like that could be a factor in you getting pulled over. My wife is Latina. We shouldn’t be afraid of that.” Record noted that citizens of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe have been strongly rallying against the law. “It complicates things for tribal citizens, especially of those nations. It has to be greatly concerning to everyone that law-abiding citizens of those nations are likely to be pulled over,” Record said. “The tribe’s sovereignty and the tribal citizens’ rights are obviously being harmed.”