November 12, 2010

SB 1070 is hurting Natives

Panelists:  Arizona SB 1070 has had profound impact on Native Americans

By Caitlin ParkerArizona Senate Bill 1070 has seriously affected Native Americans, said Michael Flores, an indigenous peoples' rights activist, speaking on a panel Nov. 3 in Goldwin Smith Hall.

The bill, which was signed into law April 23, made it legal for police officers to request evidence of citizenship during a lawful stop. Illegal immigrants at least 14 years of age are required to register with the U.S. government and acquire proper documentation. Carrying these documents is now imperative to avoid facing a misdemeanor charge, explained the panelists.
The consequences:[S]ince the bill became law, racism has become legitimized, and violence against Native peoples "is more blatant than ever." Recently, "tribal members out in the desert chopping wood have been handcuffed and beaten because they didn't have any identification on them," he said. Although the people were on their tribal land, he noted, "somehow the border patrol saw this as a legitimate way to detain people and abuse people violently."

Panelist Alan Gomez, a professor at Arizona State University, attributed such violent treatment of indigenous people to the border control's acting on the premise that "hierarchies within humanity" rightfully exist, and those on top are lawfully endorsed to enforce power.

"You do away with people's ... ability to dream and have their culture, and you limit their ability to move," he said, emphasizing that the law invokes an atmosphere where "there's an expectation of certain communities [acting] to police other communities."

This expectation of racial prejudice is troubling when considering younger generations brought up under such mentalities, he said, and how these mentalities will affect their treatment of racially diverse communities.

Panelist Margo Tamez, an assistant professor at University of British Columbia, who has interviewed Native Americans affected by the law and worked closely with various Native American tribes, remarked that indigenous communities have directly felt the Mexico-United States border wall's segregating consequences. On a physical scale, they have lost access to burial sites and other important traditional locations, she said. On a socio-cultural scale, they are losing the tribe's inherited sense of identity.
Comment:  Let's note that SB 1070 authorizes only the actions of police officers. The border wall and the Border Patrol's attitude existed before SB 1070 and aren't directly affected by it.

So the precise harm of SB 1070 to Natives isn't clear from this article. Even the wood-chopping case wasn't necessarily a result of SB 1070.

To be clear, I'm sure the harm is real. But I would've liked to hear more specifics from the panelists or the reporter.

For more on the subject, see Keep Arizona Safe...from Indians and Immigrant Beheading = Indian Scalping.

No comments: