Sinema Talks Funding Priorities, Border Security with Tohono O’odham Nation

Nov 13, 2023

Senator emphasized her commitment to advancing the Nation’s priorities around the Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act and the Williams Field Bomb Target Site

 – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema met with members of the Tohono O’odham Nation – including newly-inaugurated Chairman Verlon Jose and Vice Chairwoman Carla Johnson – to discuss their priorities and how the crisis at the Southern border has impacted their community. 

“Input from cherished tribal communities like the Tohono O’odham Nation fuels my work. We’ve achieved real solutions that will stand the test of time by working side-by-side – and that’s exactly what we’ll keep doing,” said Sinema. 

In April 2022, Sinema’s bipartisan Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act was signed into law. Shadow Wolves are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who work for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Shadow Wolves patrol the 76-mile stretch of land the Nation shares with Mexico and are known for their ability to track drug smugglers as they attempt to smuggle illegal commodities across the border. Sinema’s bill reclassifies Shadow Wolves from tactical officers to special agents, allowing the unit to better investigate and track cross-border criminal activity. The law also expands the Shadow Wolves program to other parts of the border. Sinema committed to working with Homeland Security Investigations to ensure the law is implemented.

In addition to the Shadow Wolves law, Sinema’s partnership with the Tohono O’odham Nation has already yielded major other achievements – including broadband funding from Sinema’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

The Williams Field Bomb Target site was used for bomb practice during World War II and contains 100 pounds of practice bombs or dummy bomb debris. Sinema emphasized how she’s working to advance the needed remediation of the site in the Water Resources Development Act of 2024. 

The Tohono O’odham Nation is a federally-recognized tribe that includes approximately 28,000 members occupying tribal lands in Southwestern Arizona. The Nation is the second largest reservation in Arizona in both population and geographical size, with a land base of 2.8 million acres.