WASHINGTON, D.C. -The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Tohono O'odham Nation on Tuesday formalized an agreement to develop a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant Enhanced Tribal Card.
The card will verify tribal citizenship and identity for the purpose of entering the United States by land or sea, enhancing safety and security of U.S. borders while facilitating legitimate travel and trade.
"This agreement will strengthen safety along our borders while providing Tohono O'odham members a secure and standardized ID card," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. "In the months ahead, we will continue to build upon these efforts-from secure identification to preparing for emergencies-with our tribal partners across the country."
"This agreement is of tremendous importance to the Tohono O'odham Nation and is an excellent example of how positive government-to-government relations can benefit the greater good," said Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. "The Tohono O'odham Nation is committed to doing its part by working with federal authorities to protect the U.S. homeland."
The agreement reflects Secretary Napolitano's commitment to close coordination with tribal partners across the United States on security initiatives and underscores the mutual commitment of DHS and the Tohono O'odham Nation to enhance border security and combat threats of terrorism and transnational crime through secure identification.
Since January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has also signed agreements with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona and the Seneca Nation of New York. Customs is currently working with approximately 25 additional tribes across the country on the ETC initiative.
WHTI is a joint initiative between DHS and the Department of State that implements a key 9/11 Commission recommendation and Congressional mandate to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the United States, Canada and Bermuda.
DHS implemented WHTI at land and sea ports of entry as of June 1, requiring travelers to present an approved travel document to enter the United States. Approved documents include passports, U.S. passport cards, trusted traveler program cards and state- or province-issued enhanced driver's licenses. Upon successful testing and issuance, ETCs, developed in accordance with the signed agreement, will also be accepted for border crossings.
There are over 28,000 enrolled citizens of the Tohono O'odham Nation. The Nation's lands contain 75 miles of the international border in southwestern Arizona and extend into Mexico, covering an area the size of Connecticut.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov or www.getyouhome.gov.