The cow is dead on the side of the road. She is hollowed and blistered, her brown-and-white hide dried and leathery from the days, maybe weeks, in the unforgiving desert sun. “That’s what migrants look like when we find them out here,” Mike Wilson says. Sixty miles south of Tucson, cradled on the east by the Baboquivari Mountains, is the Tohono O’odham Nation. Once a seamless society spread across the sprawling Sonoran Desert, the Tohono O’odham (meaning “Desert People”) were split into two nationalities in 1853, when the U.S. purchased from Mexico the 29,640-square-mile region that is now southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. For nearly two centuries, the 75-mile border was seen as little more than a symbol by the O’odham people, who often travel between the United States and Mexico for doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, and religious events. Even today, the Connecticut-sized reservation does not boast the towering steel fences seen in more populated border cities like Nogales and El Paso. Instead, the biggest barrier between the nations is a vehicle blockade, with a gate big enough for one car or truck to pass through at a time. This lack of physical border security—and plenty of impoverished residents… Read full this story
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