GAO Recommends Intergovernmental Agreements between Dept. of Homeland Security and Border Tribes

Here is the report.

The summary:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is coordinating in a variety of ways with tribes, such as through joint operations and shared facilities and Operation Stonegarden—a DHS grant program intended to enhance coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in securing United States borders. However, the Border Patrol and tribes face coordination challenges. Officials from five tribes reported information-sharing challenges with the Border Patrol, such as not receiving notification of federal activity on their lands. Border Patrol officials reported challenges navigating tribal rules and decisions. Border Patrol and DHS have existing agreements with some, but not all, tribes to address specific border security issues, such as for the establishment of a law enforcement center on tribal lands. These agreements could serve as models for developing additional agreements between the Border Patrol and other tribes on their specific border security coordination challenges. Written government-to-government agreements could assist Border Patrol and tribal officials with enhancing their coordination, consistent with practices for sustaining effective coordination. DHS established an office to coordinate the components’ tribal outreach efforts, which has taken actions such as monthly teleconferences with DHS tribal liaisons to discuss tribal issues and programs, but does not have a mechanism for monitoring and overseeing outreach efforts, consistent with internal control standards. Such monitoring should be performed continually; ingrained in the agency’s operations; and clearly documented in directives, policies, or manuals to help ensure operations are carried out as intended. Implementing an oversight mechanism could help enhance DHS’s department-wide awareness of and accountability for border security coordination efforts with the tribes while identifying those areas that work well and any needing improvement.


National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act’s Threat to Tribal Land

The bill’s (H.R. 1505) purpose is “To prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands, and for other purposes.” Information on (and link to) the bill can be found here.

ICT has an article by Montana Senator John Tester here, which discusses the threat to tribal land in Montana, including sacred sites.

Illegally Deported Canadian Indian May Not Sue Dept. of Homeland Security for Constitutional Violations

Here are the materials in McDonald v. Dept. of Homeland Security (S.D. Cal.):

DCT Order Dismissing McDonald Complaint

Homeland Security Motion to Dismiss

McDonald Opposition

DHS Reply

Homeland Security Memo re: Border Crossing

From NCAI: Here is a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the upcoming Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) implementation on June 1, 2009 and it’s effect on North American Indians.

Homeland Security Letter

To summarize the memorandum, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not require those persons who fall under the Jay Treaty exceptions to present a WHTI compliant document on or after June 1, 2009 until such time as an alternate document is approved and issued.

TSA to Accept Tribal IDs

TSA Announces Tribal Government Photo ID Cards Acceptable Documents for Domestic Flights

NCAI is delighted that after months of collaboration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on April 28 it will officially accept Tribal government photo ID cards as identification for domestic flights.

TSA announced a series of improvements in its aviation security and traveler screening system to strengthen security and streamline procedures for travelers while reducing the “hassle factor” for travelers. The revision includes new list of acceptable forms of identification. This new list includes “Native American Tribal Photo ID” and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Cards as one of the documents that will be accepted at TSA airport checkpoints in the United States.

The NCAI Homeland Security Working Group has been working vigorously to ensure Tribal ID cards receive the same respect accorded to all governmental identification. TSA’s decision is the result of the persistent efforts of the Working Group. The Working Group was also successful in obtaining approval of Tribal ID cards for international land border crossings earlier this year. For further information on this new rule or the NCAI Homeland Security Working Group, contact Heather Dawn Thompson, or Robert Holden, at NCAI.

Border Fence Construction Cert Petition — Defenders of Wildlife v. Chertoff

The Tohono O’odham Nation joined an amicus brief supporting the cert petition in Defenders of Wildlife v. Chertoff (No. 07-1180) (amici-supporting-cert-petn-national-advocacy-center-et-al). The government has until May 18 to file a response. This is a potentially ground breaking case, given that the Department of Homeland Security has invoked a statute that allows the Department to ignore any law (especially environmental protection laws) that would delay the construction of the border fence (for analysis, see SCOTUSblog).

We’ve written about some aspects of this controversy earlier (here).