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After a standoff between President Obama and Texas Republicans, President Obama has agreed to spend $500M USD to expand border patrol and new Reaper drones to patrol the skies.  (Source: AP)

The Reaper drones will hunt for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.  (Source: AP)

The move comes amid southern states' controversial crackdown on illegal immigration and opposition to providing Mexicans a path to citizenship.  (Source: AP)
Drones will help monitor Mexican and U.S. nationals, watch for illegal immigrants and drugs

Amid a heated debate over legislation passed earlier this year in Arizona aimed at identifying, prosecuting, and deporting illegal immigrants, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will be increasing the number of unmanned drones used to patrol the U.S. Mexican border, hunting for drugs and illegal immigrants.

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted the DHS permission to launch missions from along the border, including Texas, and along the Gulf Coast region.  The Customs and Border Protection department will maintain a drone at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station in Texas.  That drone will likely be used to hunt down groups of people crossing the border illegal, alerting authorities to apprehend them.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy will also be cooperating with the DHS on using other drones on drug-enforcement related missions.  The collaborative effort is dubbed "Operation Roadrunner" and will scan license plates on the U.S. side of the border to try to spot known drug traffickers.

The DHS will also be working with the Justice Department to implement a cooperative framework to share drone-related info with the state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's plan involves cities not on the border, but in the general area providing additional resources to the border towns.

The drones used in most of the patrol will be the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a large, versatile UAV sometimes referred to as the Predator B.  The Reaper can carry a heavy amount of ordinance, but it would be assumed that the border patrol drones will be unarmed.  The drones can be outfitted with a variety of sensors.

Thus far the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs has only used 6 Predator B drones, the first of which was deployed in Arizona in October 2005.  That drone contributed to the seizure of four vehicles and 8,267 pounds of marijuana [PDF].  That success encouraged the Border Patrol to establish more patrols of the Mexican and Canadian borders.  One drone is based in North Dakota, at the UAS Operations Center in Grand Forks, four in Arizona, at the UAS Operations Center in Sierra Vista and one based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the drones will be their use in detecting and capturing illegal immigrants.  President Obama, an advocate of immigration reform, was reportedly reticent to increase government spending to deploy more drones to track illegal immigrants and drugs on the border.  However, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) forced Obama's hand by blocking the confirmation of Michael Huerta to be deputy director of the FAA.  They now are going to received the $500M USD in extra federal spending they wanted, and at least two more drones.

Mexico is one of the heaviest sources of illegal immigration.  Of the 11 million illegal immigrants who participated in a 2008 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, 57 percent, or roughly 6.3 million individuals came from Mexico.  

 



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RE: Or....
By quiksilvr on 6/24/2010 1:32:35 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, as a resident of Arizona (and recently escaped to DC), I completely understand. But it is a mixed bag.

On one hand, yes you deal with clerks that don't speak English and higher crime and drug usage (road congestion isn't much of an issue thanks to AZ's top notch road infrastructure), but it was our doing.

By making it way too difficult to legally immigrate to the US (something that the foundation of this country has been built upon), you promote illegal immigration. Why not? You get to avoid taxes, you escape the hell you used to live in and provide for your family back home. But businesses were greedy and decided to pay illegals WAAAY under minimum wage. In doing so, businesses became so reliant on illegal workers that transitioning to legal workers is next to impossible. Their businesses would crumble. We have become woefully dependent on illegal immigration in an economic stand point.

Yes our roads are less congested, but businesses have taken a huge hit and crime hasn't gone down at all (that new gun law doesn't help any).

So for the short term, by increasing taxes on goods and services AND DECREASING TAXES FROM OUR PAYCHECKS, we can at least get more money from the illegals and they can carry their own weight, so to speak.


RE: Or....
By bubbastrangelove on 6/24/2010 1:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
Millions of people immigrate to the United States of America legally every. There's a legal process for the sake of meeting standards and screening undesirables (criminals and being unable to contribute to society).

Getting into the US shouldn't be like joining a gym. We have enough people who can operate a weed wacker that are unable to find a job.


RE: Or....
By sviola on 6/24/2010 3:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Millions of people immigrate to the United States of America legally every


Well, I thought the US only allows for 50k work permits each year...


RE: Or....
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2010 4:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
He didn't specify a time scale; perhaps he meant "every century"? :D


RE: Or....
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2010 2:24:01 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
By making it way too difficult to legally immigrate to the US (something that the foundation of this country has been built upon), you promote illegal immigration.

If that were true, illegal immigrants wouldn't be predominantly from a single country.

No, the fact is the United States has turned a blind eye to Mexico and its economic/social conditions; life sucks in Mexico, and so people want to go where it doesn't suck. Nobody wants to address this aspect of the issue, because it doesn't allow for any easy proposals for solution. The only real way to "stop" illegal immigration is for Mexico to not be such a shitty place, and for that to happen there needs to be a shift of power from corrupt politicians and drug lords. And again, there's no easy way to do that.

Republicans like the cheap labor, Democrats like the idea of getting more votes, and all of them like the fact that immigration - legal and otherwise - is lowering the average age in the country (an average old age is a bad sign for an economy, especially one with SS benefits). That's why we had a push for Amnesty: Legitimize all the illegal immigrants and you can start getting tax revenue from them. It's a superficial and simple mindset, but that (in my opinion, at least) is the basis for the attitude.


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