"The Tohono O’odham reservation has been a popular crossing point for unauthorized migrants and one of the busiest drug-smuggling corridors along the southern border, in part because the federal government strengthened the security at other spots," Santos writes. "While a 20-foot-tall steel fence lines the border in San Luis, Ariz., to the west, and Nogales, Ariz., to the east, here the border is a lot more permeable, guarded by bollards and Normandy barriers measuring eight feet, maybe, and, in some areas, sinking in the eroding ground." (Times map: Tohono land on both sides of the border)
"The number of apprehensions on the reservation has also dropped—to 14,000 last year from 85,000 in 2003, according to the tribe’s public-safety department. Still, the vehicle barriers, installed in 2006, created new headaches. One rancher, Jacob Serapo, used to fetch water for his family and cattle from a well 100 yards from his home, but the barriers left the well on the other side, in Mexico. Now he must drive four miles a few times each week to the nearest water source on the U.S. side."
Monte Mills, co-director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the University of Montana, said "because of tribal rights, building a wall across the lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation would most likely require an act of Congress."