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Central Arizona 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 a.m., 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 pounds 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 USBP 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 U.S. — 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.

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