Blog 7: O’odham Head of Public Safety Richard Saunders

On May 7th, we had the opportunity to sit down with the head of Public Safety for the Tohono O’odham tribe. This meeting was especially important to me because I am writing my paper on the U.S-Mexico border. He talked a lot about the jurisdiction of the Tohono O’odham police force, but I was more interested in the implications of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers crossing the border. I was surprised by the capital cost of immigrants that are found dead on O’odham land and require an autopsy, which he said cost the nation 3 million dollars per year. Additionally, I got to ask him about a possible alternative to the proposed border wall, which would be a road along the border through the Tohono O’odham nation. He seemed to think that if a road was constructed (beyond the utility road already in place) that further illegal activity would occur as a result. I’m not sure if that would be the case if the border road was heavily staffed 24/7, but perhaps he is right. This is something that greatly interests me, and I will continue to research as I write my paper.

2 Replies to “Blog 7: O’odham Head of Public Safety Richard Saunders”

  1. I also was surprised by the talk about the border, especially that it only really started being an issue with respect to illegal drug crossings in the 90s. I wonder how to situation will resolve and how long it will take. Will the US legalize marijuana and stop the market for that drug? Will the US develop sophisticated enough technology that we can actively monitor the border at all times? Or, will it be solved politically?

  2. There are still many questions about how best to prevent drug trafficking on the Nation yet allow for secure passage across both sides of the border by U.S, and Mexican Tohono O’odham. I thought Richard Saunders did a great job in summarizing some of the key issues involved in both issues. I know we had read about some of the costs incurred by the TON as a result of their policing of the border and their drug busts. I do not think any of the articles we read discussed the costs of taking care of the dead, including autopsies.

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