The Tigua Council voted to create an ordinance that will now require state officers to get permission before being allowed to enter into Tigua tribal lands. This comes as a result of an investigation that was launched by the Texas attorney general following state police officers that recorded gambling activities in the facilities using hidden cameras. These actions are being investigated as “illegal gambling activities” which is causing the Tigua Council’s response.
The Tigua Tribe is stating that this investigation is a violation of the sovereignty bestowed upon the tribe, which is why they’ve had to take action and create an ordinance that will prevent police officers from entering facilities on the land without prior consent. The general public will still be allowed to enter these gambling facilities as they please without needing to seek out permission from the tribe.
This is not the first time that the tribe has dealt with this type of behavior. They are currently in litigation with the Texas Attorney General’s office with representation being placed upon Dolph Barnhouse over previous incidences of officers recording with hidden cameras on the tribe’s land. Barnhouse states that Texas officers coming onto the land to record with hidden cameras are equivalent to Texas sending officers into Mexico to record – this is just not how it is done.
Dolph Barnhouse is arguing that the ordinance is being put in place to create a clear line that Tigua facilities and land are areas of sovereignty. Tigua Governor Carlos Hisa has sent a letter to the El Paso Times that states that the Tigua tribe has the inherited sovereign power to exclude specific groups from their land as they choose. In essence, the tribe has the right to determine who will be allowed on their land and who isn’t.
This ordinance is not only meant to affect police officers but to prevent the media from being able to enter Tigua facilities as well. Anyone who has a connection to a government agency or is considered to be a member of the media must seek out permission before being allowed on the land as well. Anyone who violates this ordinance may have a fee imposed on them at a grand total of $2,000.
Of course, this ordinance has created a bit of controversy. Some argue that it’s not right that the Tigua can prevent authorities from carrying out their duty of preventing illegal activities and is just being used as a way to cover up what they are doing. On the other hand, others believe that the Tigua should be allowed to create and follow their own laws which include preventing government officials from performing investigations on their land.
The Tigua Tribe has previously been ordered to remove certain games from their casinos. Back in May of 2016 the United States District Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered that the tribe remove some of their sweepstakes games that were found to be in violation of state gambling laws, giving them two months to take them down.