Mid Arizona Border, Part 3
Much of the midsection of the Arizona border
with Mexico is comprised of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation
-- also known as The Nation.
The Nation is comprised of about 5,000 square
miles and shares a 75 mile border with the Republic of Mexico.
As the violence in Mexico increases, the Tohono
O'odham Reservation becomes a vast freeway for drug smugglers
and violent Guatemalan, Honduran, and El Salvadoran gangs entering
the United States.
On Thursday, June 17, 2004 at 9:30 AM a representative
of The Tohono O'odham Nation gave sworn testimony before congress
and asked for immediate assitance to protect the people of these
lands from the mounting border violence.
The entire transcript is HERE.
The highlights of the transcript include:
Because of the lack of border
security resources and attention to the Nation, illegal immigration
through our Reservation has become a prime avenue of choice for
undocumented immigrants and drug trafficking activities traveling
into the United States. This has created urgent challenges to
protect against possible terrorists coming through a very vulnerable
location on our Reservation.
In 2002 and 2003, 1,500 undocumented
immigrants crossed our tribal lands each day.
Illegal narcotics seizures have more than doubled in the last
3 years to over 65,000 lbs. in 2002. It is no longer just Mexican
nationals crossing our reservation land. Over the last year, undocumented
immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and Central America have
been apprehended on our Nation. In 2002, 4,300 vehicles were used
for illegal drug and immigrant smuggling. A total of 517 stolen
vehicles were recovered on tribal land. From January 2003 to today
(June 17, 2004), 2,675 abandoned vehicles were found on the reservation
with 308 stolen vehicles used for criminal activities en route
to Mexico. These vehicles were stolen in Tucson, Phoenix, and
Chandler etc and used for illegal activity.
In FY 2002-2003, the U.S.
Border Patrol-Casa Grande Sector apprehended 55,514 undocumented
immigrants on our lands.
The 75 mile stretch of international border
along the Tohono O'odham Nation continues to be very vulnerable
due to the limited border infrastructure and the extreme lack
of resources and technology along the border. Moreover, the ever
increasing influx of undocumented immigrants and narcotics crossing
through our Reservation renders the region an extremely difficult
and dangerous area to secure.
Equally devastating is the adverse impact
on our cultural resources and traditions as our Tribal elders
no longer gather ceremonial plants in the desert for fear
of their safety.
The above, was taken directly from the sworn transcript which
is linked again as well, HERE.
Why is this tragedy so different from all the rest along our
border? . Because you can now compare the sworn testimony of the
Indian Nation's representative begging for help to save his homes,
families, and children from the violence of the border with the
way the sixth largest newspaper in the US -- the San Diego Union
Newspaper -- handled the very same topic. So on one hand you have
sworn under oath testimony and the other you have headlines sending
everyone on a trip to a land only Karl Rove knows well.