In a strongly-worded resolution passed by its Executive Board on May 22, 2010, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) condemned the enactment of a new law in Arizona that directs law enforcement officers to detain individuals and investigate their immigration status if they think they might be in the country without documentation.
Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1070, signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer one month ago, makes the failure to carry certain immigration documents a crime and gives the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, even if they have committed no other crime. A recently passed amendment to SB 1070, House Bill 2162, states that a person’s immigration status can only be investigated during a legal stop or arrest.
Arizona has a large Hispanic population, and many commentators have perceived the law as a movement to target and harass this group. The leadership of the American Anthropological Association views the law as giving police broad discretion to single out members of a specific ethnic group, and to encroach on established due process rights.
“The AAA has a long and rich history of supporting policies that prohibit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or sexual orientation, and of concern for the well-being of immigrant populations,” AAA Executive Board Member Debra Martin said in a statement issued today. “Recent actions by the Arizona officials and law enforcement are not only discriminatory; they are also predatory and unconstitutional.”
The AAA resolution pledges that the association as a whole will refuse to hold a scholarly conference in Arizona until SB 1070 is either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid. It makes an exception for conferences held on Indian reservations in Arizona.