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Handbook on Indigenous Peoples’ Border Crossing Rights Between the United States and Mexico

Researched and written by
Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras / Indigenous Alliance Without Borders
Christina Leza (Associate Professor of Anthropology and Indigenous Studies, Colorado College)
The “Handbook on the Indigenous Peoples’ Border Crossing Rights Between The US and Mexico,” presents a basic framework and outline for an initial reference when addressing the movement of Indigenous Peoples across the US-Mexico border. The movement of Indigenous Peoples across political borders has been restricted, prohibited, or otherwise limited in an unprecedented, and at times, militaristic fashion, especially along the Arizona-Sonora border, as detailed in the Handbook Introduction. Traditional crossing areas have been eliminated or curtailed, and the act of crossing, even at Ports of Entry, has become a point of vulnerability or peril, and even within traditional lands. Cultural, social and spiritual rights, along with customs and rituals, have been violated and/or interrupted. Thus, the ancient right to move, and live within the nations’ own lands, has been seriously disrupted. 

This manual was funded, in part, by the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the RESIST Foundation, and the Tides Foundation, and through the support of the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. Dr. Patrisia Gonzales, associate professor at the University of Arizona, contributed to this manual.


This handbook should be used as a reference for movement across the U.S.-Mexico border for Indigenous social, cultural, and spiritual purposes. It is not, however, a legal document or a complete guide on immigration laws and border policies impacting Indigenous peoples. 

The appropriate Embassy or Consulate, the tribal liaison for the relevant U.S. Customs and Border Patrol sector and, when needed, an immigration law attorney should be consulted to address questions not fully addressed in this handbook.

Border rights manual
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