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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 Redwin on 6/24/2010 4:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
... your papers please?

RE: Or....
By Anoxanmore on 6/24/2010 4:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Can you give me a rational reason why it would not work?

RE: Or....
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2010 5:16:26 PM , Rating: 3
The only reasons are irrational, and usually boil down to "300 years ago we all were immigrants" and "the Nazis did it".

RE: Or....
By bigdawg1988 on 6/25/2010 11:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
More government and it would REQUIRE that people register. Good luck trying to push that through. Besides, people would eventually figure out how to get fake ones, just like with DLs and SSNs.
What I want to know is how come it's so easy to pay a grand or more to get over here illegally, and so hard to get over here legally? Do we intentionally make the process hard or something?
Wouldn't it be better to make it easier for them to get green cards so they can be documented and taxed when they work?
The real fault of this are all the so-called entrepreneurs who hire the illegals in the first place. Damned traitors!

RE: Or....
By HrilL on 6/28/2010 7:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
LOL most if not all illegals use SSNs. You can buy a full fake ID kit with birth cert and SSN for around $350 cheaper in some places. So while some do work under the table for cash far more of them working legally and pay taxes. Probably end up paying more in taxes because they don't file for a tax return. My dad's friends daughter had a lot of issues because of this. They wanted to collect back taxes because someone was using her SSN while she was a kid and stopped paying taxes. The IRS wanted those taxes and tried to get them but they're like WTF she wasn't working when she was 8-12 years old... The point being that a lot of illegals do actually pay taxes.

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