FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2010
Anthropologists Challenge New Arizona Immigration Law
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.
Arizonahas 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pledges that the association as a whole will refuse to hold a scholarly conference in Arizona until SB 1070 is either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid.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.
AAA Arizona Resolution
Adopted by the AAA Executive Board May 22, 2010
Whereas, the American Anthropological Association has historically supported policies that prohibit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation; and
Whereas, the American Anthropological Association has a membership of more than 10,500 people, and an annual meeting that draws more than 4,000 members; and
Whereas, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association takes notice of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 requiring all local law enforcement to investigate a person's immigration status when there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States unlawfully, regardless of whether that person is suspected of a crime; and
Whereas, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association takes notice of Arizona House Bill 2162 that stipulates that person's immigration status must be investigated only during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest; and
Whereas, there exists more than a century of anthropological findings on the crucial social and political impact of discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity and a long history of anthropological concern for the well-being of immigrant populations, the American Anthropological Association considers these laws and the ways they may be implemented to be discriminatory.
Now, therefore be it resolved that the American Anthropological Association resolves not to hold a scholarly conference in the State of Arizona until such time that Senate Bill 1070 is either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid and thus unenforceable by a court; and
Be it further resolved that this boycott of Arizona as a place to hold meetings of the American Anthropological Association does not apply to Indian Reservations within the State of Arizona.
Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists and others interested in anthropology, with an average annual membership of more than 10,000. The Arlington, VA – based association represents all specialties within anthropology – cultural anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and applied anthropology.