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IV. The Kickapoo and I-872 American Indian Card

Although Form I-872’s title “American Indian Card” suggests that it can be used by any American Indian, it is a card issued exclusively to Kickapoo community members. Kickapoo peoples have traversed the largest swath of territories across the United States and Mexico, migrating from their original territories as Algonquin peoples. Since the 1700s, Kickapoos, had crossed back and forth between the United States and Mexico, after they was granted a landbase in Coahuila, Mexico. In the early twentieth century, Kickapoo began migrating back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border near Eagle Pass, Texas for seasonal agricultural work. To support the demand for migrant Kickapoo farm work, Tthe U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (INS, no longer in existence) began issuing renewable border passage cards to individual Kickapoos crossing the border into Texas during the agricultural season. U.S. Congress established the Texas Band of Kickapoo Act in 1983 to further facilitate this movement. The Act permitted any member of the Kickapoo Band whose name appeared on a tribal roll to apply for U.S. citizenship within five years of the Act’s passage and guaranteed that application would be automatically granted upon receipt. The Act further specifies that “all members of the Band,” regardless of citizenship, “shall be entitled to freely pass and repass the borders of the United States and to live and work in the United States” (25 U.S.C. § 1300b-11).  The Act federally recognized the Kickapoo of Texas as a Native community in the U.S. and further established that Mexican Kickapoo in Mexico could use a special border passage card (American Indian Card) created to ensure Kickapoo passage into the U.S. from Mexico.  According to WHTI, members of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas and the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, and Kickapoo members in Mexico who heold an American Indian Card may couldntinue to use this card when crossing the border. The Kickapoo remain unique in their recognition by the U.S. government as a binational U.S.-Mexican Indigenous community whose members are secured relatively free passage across the U.S.-Mexico border, regardless of residence and citizenship. It should be noted that INS is no longer in existence, having been absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 and most of its functions dispersed between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  In 2018, through an agreement with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the KTTT began issuing Enhanced Tribal Cards.

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