January 29, 2019 / Modified jan 29, 2019 12:21 p.m.

Tribes Discuss Visa to Allow Unimpeded Border Crossing

The proposal also includes meetings with Homeland Security, sensitivity training and translators.

O'odham border fence The barrier running along the U.S.-Mexico border cuts across the Tohono O'odham Nation.
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As lawmakers debate U.S. immigration policy, that may or may not include some form of new wall along the U.S.- Mexico border, many Native American tribes along the border are caught in the middle. Twenty-five tribes met last week in Tucson to discuss a solution.

Long before the United States existed, Native Americans moved freely, built homes and established cultural sites. Since then borders have cut across native lands isolating them from cultural centers and family.

Pascua Yaqui council member Francisco Valencia said cultural knowledge is passed down from one generation to the next, yet people cannot move freely across the border to meet with elders.

"Members of our tribe must have access to one another," Valencia said. "I can count on one hand the number of Yaqui elders over the age of 70 whom our Tucson community has access to, one hand!"

The Tribal Border Alliance discussed a proposal that includes an indigenous-only visa that allows tribal members to cross the border unimpeded, regular meetings with the Homeland Security Department, sensitivity training and translators.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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