Trump’s executive border wall plan threatens indigenous tribe

President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to build a wall on the border of Mexico and the United States is, unfortunately, not just an empty campaign promise used to gain voter support: the current plan for the 1,000-mile-long wall is shaping up to be concerning—as expected—for American tax-payers, Mexican citizens and indigenous communities.

Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25, officially ordering the construction of the wall—estimated to cost $21.6 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With Mexico’s rightful refusal to pay for the construction, American tax-payers—including Trump voters—will foot the bill.

In addition to his disrespect of Mexico and immigrants that fuel his construction plans, Trump is also threatening indigenous communities. The Tohono O’odham Nation of southern Arizona and Mexico owns 75 miles of tribal land on the border, and face destruction and division of their ancestral community.

Because of their location on the American-Mexican border, the Tohono O’odham actively patrol the border to treat dehydrated migrants and to investigate drug trafficking. Regardless of this responsibility, the American side of the tribe—including members’ families—will be cut off from its Mexican equivalent. 

Citing the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Tohono O’odham members vowed they would act against government intervention to protect their community from construction and displacement.

Indigenous peoples’ rights have been violated ever since this hemisphere was first colonized—and despite recent grassroots movements and activism they are still dangerously vulnerable to both conservative and liberal administrations. 

It is not surprising that Trump’s wall construction plan will negatively impact, displace and burden many groups of people. While many of his campaign promises were taken at face value—and often mocked for their frivolity—it is important to acknowledge that he now has the power to execute his ideas. 

While there is still an opportunity for the American public to resist and to protest the border wall, it is going to be a long and challenging fight.