TSON News | Native American tribes will not enforce SB1070

Native American tribes will not enforce SB1070

Navajo Nation Councilman Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. said Arizona’s new law violates the civil rights of members of the Navajo Nation.

The Arizona Capitol Times is reporting that Native American tribes will not enforce SB1070!

“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.

Kee Allen Begay is also a candidate for Arizona State Senate in LD 2.

The full story is below.

Native American tribes say they won’t enforce immigration law

By Evan Wyloge – evan.wyloge@azcapitoltimes.com

Published: June 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm

As the July 29 enforcement date for Arizona’s strict new immigration law nears, Native American tribes are charging that the law was written without considering their unique circumstance and that it will violate their sovereignty and their members’ civil rights.

Despite a request by Gov. Jan Brewer’s office to comply with the new law, Native American tribes will continue to oppose it and seek ways to avoid its implementation, said John Lewis, executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, which represents 20 tribes in the state.

“Tribes have jurisdiction within their land, and state law doesn’t apply,” Lewis said. “And the law just doesn’t work in the interests of the American Indian population.”

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.

In their resolution, the group says long-accepted standards of tribal life would suddenly be incongruous with the new law.

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.


(Article continued below)

“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.

“What if we had a law that said whenever a white person is traveling through the Navajo Reservation, we have reasonable suspicion that they’re carrying drugs? Where would the outcry on that be?” Begay asked. “We were here before anyone else, before any white people, and now we’re going to be questioned about being here legally?”

Brewer’s office sent a letter May 24 to the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs, asking the commission to cooperate with the state board that offers guidelines to law-enforcement agencies about how to enforce the new immigration law.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said tribal leaders have been misled when it comes to some of the main points and details of the new law. He said protections against racial profiling were included in the new law specifically to address the concerns that the Inter Tribal Council has raised.

“The resolution appears to be premised on some wrong information about the bill,” Senseman said. “It’s abundantly clear throughout the law that race cannot be used to determine reasonable suspicion.”

Because Native American tribes have sovereign governments, the interplay between state law enforcement and tribal law enforcement relies upon specific agreements between the tribes and other law enforcement agencies, said Larry Scarber, a tribal liaison for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Several tribes maintain relationships that allow local, state or federal law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the tribal police, and work within the reservations. Each tribe has a different agreement with the agencies they cooperate with, Scarber said.

On some reservations, non-tribal police are called only in emergencies. On others, non-tribal police work, communicate and cooperate regularly with tribal law enforcement, Scarber said.

“There are so many variables,” he said. “With some of the tribes, our officers are able to enforce state laws on tribal lands, but the tribes are so different, and the way they choose to exercise their sovereign rights is always different.”

Scarber of DPS said if Arizona’s new immigration law is opposed by the tribes, the law would apply only to non-tribal members on the reservation, or to tribal members when they leave the reservation. He said his agents will apply the law in accordance with the agreements they have with the tribes, and that many of the procedures will have to be developed as the new law goes into effect.

Brewer tasked the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training (AZPOST) board with developing the law enforcement training and procedural guidelines for the immigration law by the end of June.

Lyle Mann, the group’s executive director, said the concerns raised by tribes in Arizona came too late in the development of the training materials and will not be addressed specifically.

“The guidance will be: Go talk to your tribe and decide what you want to do,” he said.

The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona plans to meet with the National Congress of American Indians next week to agree on unified opposition to the new law and explore ways to prevent its implementation on tribal lands, Lewis, director of the council, said.

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5 comments on “Native American tribes will not enforce SB1070
  1. I’m not really seeing how SB1070 applies to Native Americans at all…Native Americans are American citizens, not immigrants.  The fact that some “do not carry those things” (IDs), has no bearing on that, and will result in the same sort of reaction as would be expected if a caucasian were unable to provide any sort of identification to a law enforcement official.
    To me, statements, reactions and positions of this sort…”We’re not going to enforce this law”…are just juvenile.  You don’t get to pick and choose what laws are enforced.  Once that starts happening, the entire system starts to break down.  I guess all I can say is, just like with any other law, if you don’t like it, go live somewhere else that doesn’t have that sort of law.  That’s your right.

    • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
      You’ll never guess where this liberal philosophy comes from…

    • Precisely. Native Americans do not deserve to be harassed about their immigration status, but some of them do look reasonably suspicious, so they will just have to abide by the law in the same way the reasonably suspicious Caucasians will have to abide. I’m one of those reasonably suspicious Caucasians (perhaps of Irish decent). I haven’t started carrying my birth certificate yet, but I will have to soon enough, I reckon. I mean, the law is not targeting anyone specific, so I should be just as ready as the next person, right? And since I live in a free country, it’s OK for me to carry around my birth certificate wherever I go, just in case a police officer suspects me of being an illegal Irish guy. It’s OK for people to live in fear of law enforcement suspecting them of being here illegally. That’s OK. It’s necessary. We live in times where these things are necessary.

  2.  if you don’t like it, go live somewhere else that doesn’t have that sort of law.  That’s your right.

    It’s also your right to practice civil disobedience and to have the law repealed. 

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