Joe Joaquin talked about the border patrol presence on tribal lands and the tenuous relationship between tribe members and the border patrol. He said, “they [the border patrol] work 8-5, and they think they are in control…I have had my run-ins.” He expressed the sentiment that they should stay on the border and not on the reservation. He mentioned that “we didn’t ask for the border. It came without our consultation. If they had asked us, we would have told them to put it on the coast where our ancestral lands were. Then we would have had beach property! He says that his own grandfather was born in Mexico and he went to school near the border, where he learned Spanish. However, he does not speak it because he worries that the ‘green shirts’ will pick him up and take him over the border. He says that he stopped going over the border when it became more of a problem.
A similar sense of bewilderment about the placement of the border was echoed by Bernard Siqueiros when he mentioned that the border barrier was originally meant to control livestock until illegal immigration and drug smuggling became an issue. He also discussed recent changes after 911, which increased the border patrol presence and the negative impacts that the border patrol presence has had on the occurrence of traditional O’odham ceremonies and visiting family across the border. He said that being stopped by the border patrol was a regular occurrence on the reservation and something to which he had grown accustomed.
I found these two accounts fascinating because while driving I was particularly aware of the border patrol presence on the reservation. Even though I knew we were obviously all US citizens, every time we approached a border patrol station, I could feel my anxiety level slightly increase, and every time when a border patrol car would come up behind us to pass, I would have that same experience fearing that it was a cop car that was going to pull us over. It struck me that I would not personally have wanted to live with that extent of border patrol presence in my daily life.