The San Miguel Gate is a border crossing site on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona. Photo: Tohono O'odham Nation
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First Americans and New Americans come together to address shared concerns





With immigration and border policies changing dramatically under President Donald Trump, a unique event is seeking to bridge the divide between the first Americans and more recent arrivals.

The National Congress of American Indians, the largest inter-tribal organization in the United States, and Define American, a media organization that focuses on immigration issues, are co-hosting the event in Washington, D.C., this week. Tribal and immigrant leaders will come together to discuss shared concerns amid a national focus on travel bans, border fences and the children of immigrants, more commonly known as Dreamers.

Speakers at FIRST AMERICANS and NEW AMERICANS: Forging Shared Narratives around Culture, Identity, and Citizenship include Chairman Edward D. Manuel of the Tohono O’odham Nation. His tribe is fighting plans by the Trump administration to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico, a project that would further cut off his people from relatives, economic opportunities and sacred sites on both sides of the border.

"We don't support any wall," Manuel asserted after Trump issued a series of border-related executive orders that failed to include his tribe, .whose reservation shares a 75-mile border with Mexico.

José Antonio Vargas, a co-founder and chief executive officer of Define America, is also on the agenda. He was brought to America from the Philippines as a child but lacks U.S. citizenship because his parents are not considered legal immigrants.

"Over the last five years specifically, more than 800k young undocumented immigrants – who have lived here for many years and are American in all but paperwork – have finally been able to contribute their skills, energy and resources to this country without the constant fear of deportation," Vargas wrote after Trump announced the eventual end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which protects the so-called Dreamers.

FIRST AMERICANS and NEW AMERICANS: Forging Shared Narratives around Culture, Identity, and Citizenship takes place Thursday and Friday at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C.

Related Stories:
Mark Charles: A Native perspective is missing in America's immigration debate (September 5, 2017)
Cronkite News: Trump ends program for children of undocumented immigrants (September 5, 2017)
Secretary Zinke confirms role in talking to tribes about unwanted border wall (March 29, 2017)
Cronkite News: Tribes remain wary of wall along US-Mexico border (March 16, 2017)
Tohono O'odham Nation leaders share concerns about border wall (February 21, 2017)
Cronkite News: Tohono O'odham Nation concerned about border wall (February 2, 2017)
Tim Vanderpool: Tohono O'odham Nation wary of border activities (January 30, 2017)
Tohono O'odham Nation reaffirms opposition to wall along border (January 26, 2017)
President Trump ignores tribes in executive order on US-Mexico border wall (January 25, 2017)
Tristan Ahtone: Tohono O'odham Nation determined to stop border wall (November 16, 2016)