By Rob Capriccioso
Tribal leaders, including St. Regis Mohawk Chief James Ransom, have pointed out to DHS that it’s not desirable or affordable for many tribes to pay for enhanced tribal cards that would be permitted as border crossing documentation.
Story Published: Sep 8, 2009
Checkpoint: Sovereignty and border security , 3 of a 5 part series
WASHINGTON – The George W. Bush administration wasn’t exactly known for its care and concern on border issues affecting tribes. Some Native Americans thought the scenario would change under the Obama administration. But change has yet to come.
Early on, the administration started out with what many viewed as a positive gesture, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano directly reaching out to tribes promising consultation.
Since the establishment of the department in late-2002, it has overseen many border issues of concern to tribes. The department’s main goals are to protect the United States from terrorist attacks and to respond to natural disasters.
At the winter session of the National Congress of American Indians in early March, Napolitano released a draft consultation policy and solicited input from NCAI and tribes, especially those hit by natural disasters and located along the borders.
“For tribes that are on the borders of Mexico and Canada, we need to work together in a special way because we have tribes and families on both sides of the borders,” she said.
“As we tighten up requirements to show lawful presence and immigration status and the like, we need to take into account how tribes will be a little bit different. We need to build that into the consultation policy from the outset.”
The words were quite welcome to tribal leaders, who had just spent a few difficult years dealing with former secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, a Bush appointee.
Of particular concern to some tribes, Chertoff waived the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and other federal laws to speed construction of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. NAGPRA is a 1990 federal law, which created a legal process for federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return American Indian human remains and cultural items to their respective tribes or lineal descendants. ::: MORE HERE:::