Sinema Introduces Bipartisan Bill Supports Shadow Wolves’ Efforts to Secure the Border

Mar 11, 2020

Senator’s legislation classifies the Shadow Wolves unit as special agents, improving their ability to secure Arizona’s border

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema today introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator John Hoeven (ND) classifying the Shadow Wolves unit as special agents allowed to patrol, investigate, interdict, and secure the border. Shadow Wolves are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who patrol the 76-mile stretch of land the Nation shares with Mexico. Reclassifying Shadow Wolves as special agents will entrust them with more authority so they can investigate illegal border crossings in addition to patrolling the border.
“We must ensure the Shadow Wolves have necessary authority to secure the Tohono O’odham Nation’s border, keeping Arizonans safe while respecting the Nation’s tribal sovereignty,” said Sinema, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 
“For nearly 50 years, the Shadow Wolves have helped secure the border, protecting the U.S. homeland and the Tohono O’odham Nation. The country’s only Native American tracking unit, their traditional tracking methods are renowned worldwide. They are demonstrated proof of what can be accomplished when tribes and federal agencies work together to enhance public safety. Senator Sinema’s legislation will help the Shadow Wolves improve recruitment and expand their operations and, most importantly, continue to protect American lives. The bill will ensure that this unique unit has the capability to continue securing the border for decades to come,” said Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr.

The Shadow Wolves members of the Tohono O’odham nation who work for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Shadow Wolves are known for their ability to track drug smugglers as they attempt to smuggle illegal commodities across the 76-mile border the Tohono O’odham Nation shares with Mexico. Sinema’s bill reclassifies Shadow Wolves from tactical officers to special agents, allowing the unit to better investigate and track cross-border criminal activity.
Last week in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing questioned Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about improving how his Department works with Arizona stakeholders, such as the Tohono O’odham Nation, to secure the border, protect Arizona communities, and treat migrants fairly and humanely.
Sinema has worked across the aisle to keep Arizona safe and address ongoing challenges at the border. Last year, she secured critical priorities in the bipartisan border funding bills that were signed into law, including increasing the number of immigration judges at the border, providing funding for nongovernmental organizations assisting migrants across Arizona, and improving recruitment and retention of border security personnel.