Pascua Yaqui Tribe reaches agreement with ‘Enhanced Tribal Card’

Staff reports
6/10/09

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Pascua Yaqui Tribe, a federally recognized Indian tribe in Arizona, is the first in the state to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to develop an “Enhanced Tribal Card” meeting the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The “Enhanced Tribal Card” will be available to qualifying Pascua Yaqui Tribe members on a voluntary basis, and will include facilitative technology enabling the electronic verification of the member’s identity, tribal membership and citizenship.

On June 1, U.S. citizens entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda by land or sea will be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other WHTI compliant documents.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is approximately 60 miles from the Nogales border and membership is more than 16,000. Many of the tribal members have close relatives residing in Mexico. In fact, there are more than 40,000 Yaquis residing in Sonora, Mexico who are not U.S. citizens or members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. It is hard for them economically to be able to obtain Mexican Passports or U.S. Visas to visit the U.S. Therefore it is common practice for U.S. Yaquis to visit friends and family members who are citizens of Mexico and the Rio Yaqui Tribe in Mexico. Having the DHS WHTI compliant ID card will make it easier economically and procedurally for members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to cross the border on a regular basis to visit relatives.

In addition, both the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and its Yaqui cousins regularly visit each other for religious and cultural purposes. The WHTI enhanced ID card will make travel for these purposes much easier also.

The tribe remains committed in working with the DHS/CBP to ensure that our rights are protected and impact to our families, culture and religion are avoided, while ensuring the nation’s security.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is currently developing the Enhanced Tribal Card and anticipates the card will be available for production within the next four months. Inquiries may be directed to Marisela Nunez, enrollment director of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe at (800) 572-7282, ext. 6231 or ext. 6242.

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