Migration of Responsibility: The Trust Doctrine and the Tohono O'odham Nation

Karrie A. Gurbacki


This article discusses the impact of the influx of migrants from Mexico and Central America on the American Southwest. Specifically, it discusses how Native American tribes of the Southwest, especially the Tohono O’odham Nation, have become a magnet for illegal border crossings due to lax enforcement policies on tribal land. As a result, the tribe has encountered a surge in drug-trafficking, violence, and environmental destruction on its reservation. The article first analyzes the trust doctrine between the Native American tribes and the United States federal government. It concludes with a discussion of the monetary and equitable relief available to the Tohono O’odham Nation in the form of damage awards and increased border protection.


Immigration; Tohono-O’odham Nation; Native American tribes; US-Mexico relations; tribal sovereignty; trust doctrine; American Southwest

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