Illegal immigration and smuggling have recently had immense impacts on the lives of the indigenous people who live in the border region. The Tohono O’odham, for example, live on both sides of the border, and have for generations traveled throughout their ancestral homeland without restriction. Increased security at the border now makes it very difficult for the U.S. O’odham to visit their friends and families in Mexico. The reverse is also true. Furthermore, thousands of illegal immigrants pass through the reservations each year. Some do no more damage than scattering their trash over the landscape. Others, however, commit violent crimes, drive recklessly, or demand services from the Tohono O’odham Nation.
Whereas illegal immigration is a difficult and expensive problem for the Indian nations along the border, it is far less serious than the challenges posed by the drug cartels. Currently, hundreds of reservation residents are involved in smuggling in one way or another. Young people have been attracted to such illegal activities for money and because they cannot find good jobs on the reservations. This surge in drug and human smuggling has placed a great strain on law-enforcement agencies of the Indian nations.
In addition to the problems mentioned above, tightened border security is very inconvenient for Native Americans who live in the region. Federal Agents often mistake them for illegal immigrants and, therefore, stop and sometimes detain them. Therefore, while illegal immigration constitutes a civil security threat to all Americans, it is of particular concern to the indigenous groups who live along the border.