Wednesday, November 8, 2006
From Professor Carol Suzuki of the University of New Mexico School of Law:
"I am happy to tell you that New Mexicans voted to repeal the state's Alien Land Act on Tuesday. The law, adopted in 1921, amended the New Mexico constitution to prohibit land ownership by all immigrants ineligible for citizenship. This law formalized anti-Japanese immigration sentiment prevalent in the U.S. in the early 20th century.
"The advocacy of students in the Community Lawyering Clinic, the Law Practice Clinic and the Asian American Law Students Association at the University of New Mexico School of Law was instrumental in placing the resolution on the ballot and educating New Mexicans to vote in favor of the amendment to repeal the Alien Land Act."
The alien land laws were very popular in much of the West in the early twentieth century, when they were directed at Japanese (who were ineligible at the time to naturalize) farmers. A few years ago, Keith Aoki wrote an excellent article in the Boston College Law Review analyzing how the alien land laws served as a prelude to the internment of person sof japanese ancestry during World War II.