Native American Tribe Cracks Down on Illegal Immigrant Residents

Under new Tesuque Pueblo tribal rules, all the residents of a tribe-owned New Mexico mobile home community will be required to furnish proof of citizenship status or move out.

The Santa Fe New Mexican spoke to Alicia Olivas, a resident of the community, who said even though she is getting a permanent residency card, she might have to find a new place to live, because her husband and daughter are illegal immigrants. Another resident, who has started to organize the tenants to protest the policy, said many have lived there between five and 10 years without encountering any similar complications.

Residents learned about the policy via a letter signed by property manager Dan Clavio, who explained to one tenant that the tribe’s federal funding could be jeopardized by non-compliance with immigration laws, according to the New Mexican. However, the source reported that while the Native American tribe has sovereign nation status that allows it to institute its own policies, no state or federal law prohibits landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants.

In addition to the new citizenship requirements, tenants’ rents are being raised. At a recent meeting between Clavio and tenants, one resident called the policies “inhumane” and suggested the tribe is trying to recoup cash lost as the result of a 2008 embezzlement, the New Mexican reported.

Despite this move by the Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico has historically pursued more immigrant-friendly policies than its western neighbor, Arizona.

The New Mexico legislature approved a resolution recognizing illegal immigrants’ economic contributions at about the same time Arizona passed SB 1070, a hard-line immigration law that has since been challenged by the federal government, according to The New York Times. Speaking of New Mexico, Arizona State Representative John Kavanaugh told the Times, “If a burglar breaks into your home, do you serve him dinner? That is pretty much what they do there with illegals.”

There are signs, however, that Arizona residents might be more in line with New Mexico’s approach than lawmakers believed. Arizona voters recently recalled the state senator who authored SB 1070.