Prop 187 Protest Letter

Aaron Fox (aaf@CCWF.CC.UTEXAS.EDU)
Tue, 22 Nov 1994 11:21:02 -0600

Dear Anthro-Listers

**************IMPORTANT POINT: Send ALL replies to this message directly to
me please -- do NOT reply to the list:********************

Please consider adding your voice and signature to the following
letter which will be presented to the board of the American
Anthropological Assoc. prior to the meetings coming up in Atlanta. The
letter asks the AAA board to take a public stance in opposition to Calif.
Prop. 187, the "anti-immigrant" act that denies health care and medical
care to undocumented migrants and workers and requires professional
educators, health care workers, and social workers to report clients to the
state who fall within the act's provisions.

The public stand we have in mind extends to the consideration of a
BOYCOTT of the State of California for national meetings until the state or
the courts reverse prop. 187.

It is hoped that this and similar efforts will spur the passage fo
a resolution in Atlanta,

Any tactical advice, editorial suggestions, or information on
similar actions would be more than welcome. I will post all such
information to this list.

ALL signers: please include your name and title as you would like
it to appear on a signatory list, PLEASE list your affiliation WITH
DEPARTMENT, and list any memberships (in AAA, SEM, AFS, or LSA). All
signers will receive a final version of the letter and a complete list of
signers. The current list includes:

* = Faculty. Plz let me know if I am missing some. Should I use full
titles for faculty and other PhDs? I will send out individual queries
before the final version is done.

Jennifer ARNOLD Stanford U.
*Richard BAUMAN, Folklore, Indiana U.
C. Ray BRASSIEUR, Folklore, U. Missouri, Columbia
*Steven FELD, Anthro & Music, U. of Texas
*Aaron FOX Univ. of Texas at Austin/Univ. of Washington
William GALLOWAY, Anthro., U. Washington
Rudolf GAUDIO, Sociolinguistics, Stanford U.
*Jane HILL, Anthro, U. of Arizona
*Eugene HUNN, Anthro., U. Washington
*Marilyn IVY, Univ. of Washington
*Charles KEIL, Dept of American Studies, SUNY at Buffalo
Scott KIESLING, Georgetown Univ.
*Moira KILLORAN Whittier College
Dan LEFKOWITZ, Anthro, Univ. of Texas at Austin
Susan LEPSELTER, U. of Texas/Austin
*Bonnie MCELHINNY Washington Univ./St. Louis
Louise MEINTJES, Anthro., U. Texas Austin
Jacqueline MESSING, Univ. of Arizona (has offered to do a Spanish vers. RAH!)
Leila MONAGHAN, Anthro, UCLA
Debra OCCHI U.C. Davis
*John PEMBERTON, Anthro, U. Washington
*Anita PUCKETT, Appalachian Studies, Vrginia Tech
Kate RILEY, Anthro, CUNY Grad Center
*Michael RILEY, Aurora Univ.
Richard J. SENGHAS, U Rochester & Nicaraguan Sign Language Project
*Joel SHERZER, Anthro., U. Texas at Austin
*Beverly STOELTJE, Folklore, Indiana U.
*Pauline Turner STRONG, Anthro., U.Texas, Austin
*Jeff Todd TITON, Music, Brown Univ.
*Francine Winddance TWINE, Women Studies/Anthro, U. Washington
*Shana WALTON Univ. of Southern Mississippi
*Christopher A. WATERMAN, Anthro. and Music, U. Washington
*Jim WILCE, Anthro, Nortern Ariz. U., (AAA)

It is necessary that you be either a member of AAA or (because a
similar version will be going to these organizations) of the American
Folklore Society, the Linguistic Society of America, and the Society for
Ethnomusicology. The only exceptions for the moment must be for graduate
students in anthropology, linguistics, folklore, ethnomusicology, and/or
sociology; OR prominent figures in the immigrant community or those who
work directly with the immigrant community as professionals and activists.
The reasons for these restrictions are strictly tactical, in order to
insure that the letter has a focused impact. I am more than happy to
advise and assist in the coordination of similar efforts with different and
larger pools of signatories.

Thank you in advance for your time and input on this.

Aaron Fox
Univ. of Texas at Austin/Univ. of Washington
*****(AGAIN: all replies directly to me please -- do NOT reply to the list)


I need to keep this organized so that it stays accountable and nobody gets
misrepresented, so I am "letter central" for the moment.


To the board of directors of the American Anthropological Association:

We the undersigned, as members of the AAA [AFS/SEM/LSA] and/or as
professional linguists, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists, and
friends of the immigrant community urge the Association to consider taking
public actions denouncing the recent passage of the anti-immigrant act in
the state of California ("Prop. 187").

In keeping with the "human rights" theme of the 1994 annual meeting in
Atlanta, we urge the Association to announce a public stand opposing Prop.
187, and further, to consider a boycott of the state of California as a site for
future meetings of the full association or its sections until the act is
repealed. If this is not possible, we urge a positive effort to do
business with firms and organizations which publicly oppose Prop. 187 in

We believe that the spirit of this law is antithetical to the values we
hold as humanists and scientists, and as anthropologists in particular, in
at least three respects:

1) It is inhumane, if not unconstitutional, to deny medical
care and education to *residents* of the United States, regardless of
citizenship or means. [cf. note 1 below] The proper enforcement of
immigration policy, and the ultimate justifications for that policy
notwithstanding, we object to the use of health and education policy to
punish our neighbors, students, patients, colleagues, and friends in the
immigrant community. Such punishment is a denial of and an affront to the very
"human rights" the U.S. claims to champion in its foreign policy, and which
the AAA has adopted as a basis for its code of professional ethics.

2) The government of California undermines the rightful political
and ethical autonomy of the professions -- especially the medical, legal,
and educational professions -- when it mandates, in Prop. 187, that
professionals in these fields are expected to inform the government if
their services are sought in contravention of Prop. 187. As scholars and
educators, we decry this offense against an important democratic principle,
and we would further point out the larger implications of this offense for
*every* resident of the U.S. (citizen or not) who entrusts her or his
private concerns to a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a lawyer, a journalist, a
researcher, or a member of the clergy.

3) As anthropologists, and social scientists we recognize in
particular the essential contributions made by immigrants - both "legal"
and "illegal" -- to American society throughout the history of this nation.
The AAA should, we believe, lead the fight against the attack on cultural
diversity in the U.S. represented by Prop. 187.

We argue moreover that the immigrants specifically targeted by the
proponents of Prop. 187 are, in fact, singled out precisely on the basis of
their ethnicity, language, and lack of financial resources. Non-Anglo
immigrants are being made scapegoats for larger crises in the economy and
culture of the U.S.

There is a basic paradox and a deep cyncism at work when a wealthy
society will not deliver citizenship rights or basic services to those
whose labor it exploits at the lowest possible levels of pay, benefits and
working conditions.

As scholars, we decry the clear parallels between Prop. 187 and the
long and deplorable history of racist justifications for U.S. immigration
policy throughout the nation's history. Furthermore, we recognize that
such policy has long been used to divide the unified interests of *all* of
the working families in this society along ethnic, gendered, and linguistic
lines. This divisive process is clearly at work in California during this
political season.

We urge the AAA board to take our concerns seriously during the
Atlanta national meeting. We hope the board will issue a public
condemnation of Prop. 187 and to consider a boycott of the state of
California as a meeting site.


(see the list above)

FN 1:
*All persons resident in the United States, of any legal status, are
entitled to attend public schools* according to a major Supreme Court decision
entitled "Plyler v. Doe."

Dept. of Anthropology Univ. of Texas at Austin Austin TX 78712
email: FAX (512) 471-6535

Dept. of Anthropology Univ. of Texas at Austin Austin TX 78712
email: FAX (512) 471-6535