Native American Leaders Bring Facts and Fire to Open Borders Hearing

by Sarah Cowgill at

What began as a fact-finding mission by the members of the House Committee on Natural Resources soon turned into a finger-pointing partisan blame game until the posturing politicians yielded the floor to representatives of several Native American tribes. The subject of the hearing was how America’s open border crisis is devastating reservations. The tribal leaders were prepared; the DC Swampers were not. Generations of the US government came under fire for allowing drug cartels to move freely through tribal lands.

The hearing memo highlighted the committee’s goals:

“President Biden’s failed immigration policies have made every community a border community. International criminal cartels are taking advantage of these failed border policies to traffic massive amounts of illegal drugs, as well as people, across the United States. International criminal cartels actively target rural communities in Indian country.”

Bryce Kirk, tribal executive board member, Fort Peck Tribes, Poplar, MT; Jeffrey Stiffarm, president, Fort Belknap Indian Community, Harlem, MT; Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies, Center for Immigration Studies; and Verlon Jose, chairman, Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona, were on hand to testify on behalf of their people. 

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Brief remarks by committee Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) set the tone: Gosar labeled it a Biden open borders policy problem and Stansbury claimed Republicans won’t play ball and that a solution is close at hand. But after those pledges of civility and bipartisan work for the people, the committee asked the visitors for their input on making the crisis disappear.

Tribal leaders want direct funding to stop the fentanyl crisis. Cartels move people and products to reservations because they have thousands of acres of land with little in the way of population. There are not enough federal agents to work the 326 designated reservations, so the cartels act unimpeded.

All leaders want to be able to use designated budgets in ways that will serve each community best. “Bureaucratic red tape” was a common phrase sprinkled into the discussions of fentanyl and cartel invasions. As Kirk pointed out, there are no strings attached or hoops to jump through for billions of dollars going to Ukraine, Iran, and Israel. “I see these aid packages going overseas, and I ask, why not start here?” He added, “What do you want us to do? Sit down and have a talk with the cartel?”