Are Illegal Aliens a Problem in Indian Casinos?

DHS document hints that they may be

By David North on June 8, 2023

Are illegal aliens and other trafficked persons a problem in the nation’s Indian-run casinos? A recently released Homeland Security document suggests that they may be, but does so in the most oblique language.

The document’s title is “Human Trafficking Response Guide: For the Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Industry”. It is a joint publication of DHS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior, and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The entire focus is on the victims of human trafficking and how to recognize them (a useful part of this toolkit). That these victims must include a substantial number of illegal aliens is not even mentioned; as a matter of fact, using the search tool one finds no use of the word “alien”. The only use of the word “illegal” relates to drugs.

This is, in short, a social work document, not an enforcement one.

Background on American Indians and Illegal Aliens. There is nothing in the report that deals with either the impact of illegal aliens on American Indians/Alaska Natives or on the unusual roles that Indian tribes have within the immigration system, which we sketch below.

In the first place, American Indians are more likely to be adversely affected economically by illegal immigration than any other group, including Black Americans. The tribes should be in the forefront of immigration enforcement activities, but they are not. Indians do not need a system that produces extra millions of low-skilled workers every year competing with them — with the illegal aliens disproportionately settling in the western part of the nation, which is where most Indians live.

Three easy-to-grasp metrics, shown below, summarize that situation.

How Indians Fare vs. Other American Ethnic Groups

Mortality Rate*
Hispanics 81.9 18.3% 5.0
Whites 78.8 10.6% 4.6
Blacks 74.8 22.1% 10.8
American Indians/
Alaska Natives
71.8 24.1% 8.4

Sources: Second column, National Indian Council on Aging; third column, U.S. Census; and fourth column, March of Dimes.
* Rate per 1,000 live births.

In addition to the element of illegal aliens’ competition with Indians in the labor market, there are two other major and one minor consideration in this field:

  1. Some Indian reservations, such as that of the Tohono O'odham in Arizona, are immediately adjacent to our borders;
  2. The hospitality business, generally, includes many employers of illegal aliens, so Indian casinos face the same temptation; and
  3. A handful of tribes claiming members on both sides of both borders can issue documents allowing passage across the border.

So while most American Indians are victims of illegal immigration, some may profit from it, but there is not a word in this gentle document that hints of this.