National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
1612 K Street N.W., Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aleli Samson
October 27, 2008
NAPABA URGES FLORIDA VOTERS TO PASS BALLOT INITIATIVE TO
ELIMINATE LAST ALIEN LAND LAW IN THE U.S.
Washington, DC – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students, urges Florida voters to pass Amendment #1, a ballot initiative that Florida voters can approve in this election. If passed, Amendment #1 would finally amend the Florida Constitution to remove the last of this Nation’s antiquated and unconstitutional Alien Land Laws, historically discriminatory measures adopted in the early 1900s that prohibited non-U.S. born people of color from owning land.
Legislators used the facially race-neutral phrase of “aliens ineligible for citizenship” in the Alien Land Laws. However, these laws were anything but race-neutral because Asian immigrants were not granted naturalization rights until 1952. Only “free white persons” enjoyed naturalization rights until 1870 when persons of African nativity or descent were included.”
“The Alien Land Laws were part of a larger system of racial discrimination against people of color that included segregation, limited job opportunities, prohibition against interracial marriage, and violence,” stated Helen B. Kim, President of NAPABA. “In other words, Florida’s alien land law from 1926 is one of the last remnants of Jim Crow era discrimination.”
By 1960, in most states, the Alien Land Laws were found unconstitutional on equal protection grounds and repealed, with the exception of Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico, and Florida. In 2001, Wyoming and Kansas repealed their alien land laws. In 2006, after a failed ballot initiative in 2002, New Mexico’s alien land law was repealed.
This is the first time an amendment to remove Florida’s alien land law is before Floridians as a ballot initiative. NAPABA urges Florida voters to vote yes for Amendment #1, sending the message that Florida is as committed to constitutional principles and as welcoming of diverse residents as the rest of this Nation.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and approximately 57 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.