Several events will honor and discuss the devastating effects of the US’s immigration policy on Native American women

Minutes after publication of this article, three senators (Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar and Jeanne Shaheen) asked Native American leaders to attend a Senate event today to address violence against Native women.


Paying homage

“Through discussions, games, poetry, art, music, music, candle lighting, and the recognition of a witness who saw and helped stop a crime, this event will ‘pay tribute to Native women and girls who have died or are missing from domestic violence and sexual assault,’ ” a press release from Senators Shaheen and Klobuchar stated.

The event, announced last week, will be streamed on the Native Voices Foundation’s Facebook page and the Indian Country Today Media Network’s Facebook page. Native leaders and advocates are encouraged to attend the event.

State proceedings

On Thursday afternoon, a group of New Mexico politicians attended a meeting of the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico to discuss their efforts to keep the U.S. from tightening immigration laws.

The meeting was one of several panel discussions to discuss the implications of an immigration bill that would threaten the ability of American Indians and Alaska Natives to keep their kids in school.

“Any effort to deter education is not something we should support,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Udall at the meeting.

“It’s a violation of the treaties we signed with the U.S. Government,” added Suzanne Johnston, President of the New Mexico Commission on Indian Affairs. “We signed those treaties, they’re in the treaties, the bill is not in the treaties and so that’s a violation of those treaties and therefore our ability to maintain Indian school status,” she said.

The exact contours of the immigration bill are not set in stone, but those who have been watching the debates closely have been wondering how the bill will affect Native Americans.

Border fears

Representatives of the Nebraska chapter of the Indian National Congress met Thursday with members of the Nebraska Department of Public Safety to discuss local concerns regarding U.S. immigration policy and help them navigate the institution’s requirements.

“The Nebraska Department of Public Safety has a pretty good grasp on the issues. They’re well-prepared and we’re focused on helping them make sure we’re representing and educating Nebraskans on these important issues,” said Chantal Abruzzo of the Nebraskans For Immigrant Justice organization, one of the groups involved.

Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning has demanded that President Obama resettle approximately 5,000 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. If he succeeds, Bruning said border security would be the most important thing that would happen to the Nebraska economy.

Beyond the few thousand apprehensions each year, the small town of Lincoln sees the effects of the nation’s current immigration policy every day, the leaders of Nebraskans For Immigrant Justice said.

“Our friends and neighbors have been afraid to go to the grocery store or the doctor, and they don’t have the resources to survive,” Abruzzo said.

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