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Tohono O’odham: Border wall between US, Mexico won’t be built on our Arizona land

Workers continue work raising a taller fence in the Mexico-US border area separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Last September, the U.S. Border Patrol began erecting an 18-foot-tall steel fence in this area considered very symbolic to immigration activists and also the site where, for the past 17 years, a binational Mass celebrating Mexico's Day of the Dead is held to honor the migrants who have died trying to get to the United States. (AP Photo/Christian Torres)

PHOENIX — The Tohono O’odham Nation will reportedly not allow a border wall between the United State and Mexico to be built on its lands in southern Arizona.

Tribal Vice Chairman Verlon Jose told KJZZ that their ancestral lands — the tribe’s reservation is split between the U.S. and Mexico and includes about 75 miles of international border — are more important to the community than politics.

“Over my dead body will a wall be built,” Jose said, describing some community members’ sentiments. “I don’t wish to die but I do wish to work together with people so we can truly protect the homeland of this place they call the United States of America. Not only for our people but for the American people.”

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign foundations was his promise to build a wall along the country’s southern border and have Mexico foot the bill. Mexican officials have repeatedly said that would not happen.

Jose told KJZZ that he would invite Trump to the reservation so he could see for himself why a physical wall would not work on Tohono O’odham land and would be a bad idea for the country as a whole.

In a poll conducted last month, 47 percent of Arizonans said they see the border wall as a waste of money, while 34 percent believe it would be an effective barrier.

The Tohono O’odham reservation begins west of Lukeville and ends east of Sasabe. It is southwest of Tucson.

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