Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has joined an amendment, introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana), which would add tribal representation to the Border Oversight Task Force. This task force, established under the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, will make recommendations regarding immigration and border enforcement policies, procedures, strategies and programs.
"Our nation's Indian tribes have as much at stake in immigration reform as other Americans," said Crapo. "This bill calls for the establishment of a Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Border Oversight Task Force that will take into consideration the impact of immigration on border communities when they make recommendations. With the northern and southern border running through more than a dozen Indian reservations, it makes no sense to exclude the tribes from this task force. Further, tribal lands are often remote with little law enforcement, which is leading to an increase in smuggler and illegal immigrants entering through reservations. If we are going to secure the border, tribal leaders should be able to provide the task force with input to help get this done."
Currently, the task force does not include tribal representation, despite the fact that 86 miles of the northern border, that includes tribal land in Idaho, and 68 miles of the southwest border are on 13 Indian reservations. The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently reported that "coordination challenges relating to tribal government rules and understanding" has hindered the Border Patrol's ability to secure the border.
The amendment would add four tribal representatives to the DHS Border Oversight Task Force: two from the Northern Region and two from the Southern Region. This will bring the Task Force membership to a total of 33 members representing Northern and Southern border stakeholders.