In March, the Tohono O’odham nation’s legislative council unanimously approved the creation of 10 integrated fixed towers (or IFTs), up to 140 feet tall, with radar and night vision cameras capable of streaming footage to Border Patrol. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
Tribal police spend more than half their time assisting Border Patrol and doing other border-related enforcement, and the nation spends $3 million annually on border security. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
Tohono O’odham leaders are hopeful the towers could end up reducing Border Patrol’s presence on their land. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
Some younger tribal members oppose the towers, fearing that instead of reducing Border Patrol’s presence, the “virtual wall” will lead to more surveillance and physical barriers. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
Border Patrol has tried for nearly a decade to install towers on the reservation so it can catch smugglers before they reach the mountains. But in the past, residents protested and wrote to tribal leaders, worried the towers would disturb the land. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
It remains unclear whether the Border Patrol towers will benefit the tribe, or lead to more enforcement. Some hope the Tohono O’odham will mobilize again to research the towers and, if they’re installed, to monitor their impact. https://lat.ms/2vKX4O4
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