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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 Solandri on 6/24/2010 9:56:27 PM , Rating: 3
Where in the constitution does it say that local and state authorities are forbidden from enforcing federal law? The "unconstitutional" canard came only from those that haven't read 1070, and those that did immediately backed off on the assertion.

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I realize the argument is somewhat pedantic. How exactly do you define a search as being "unreasonable"? But let me put things in perspective. When I was in high school in 1984 (before the end of the Cold War), we got a new transfer student. From the Soviet Union no less. It turns out the USSR granted a limited number of visas to emigrate, and his family decided what the heck, applied, and got one.

The stories he told of what life was like back in Soviet Russia gave those of us in the class a rare glimpse into the hidden world behind the Iron Curtain. Not from the viewpoint of the media, or a visitor being shepherded by government lackeys, but from someone who was born, grew up, and lived there his entire life. Among the many insights he shared, things that most of us would never appreciate unless they were suddenly gone, was this one: Freedom to travel.

In the USSR he told us, you couldn't go where ever you wanted. If the authorities thought you didn't belong, they could stop you and ask for your ID and papers, and sometimes detain you and hold you indefinitely. You didn't have to do anything wrong, you didn't have to be acting suspicious. If a government official/policemen merely thought something wasn't right, he could stop you. His family and others rarely traveled because of this, and when they did it was always with full paperwork and documentation substantiating who they were, where they were going, and why.

What a change it was when he came to the US! You could go anywhere (well, almost anywhere) for any reason and the government wouldn't bother you about it. A policeman wouldn't question you without cause. It was a novel and foreign concept which he frequently spoke fondly of - the idea that you could go someplace, any place, on the spur of the moment, just because you felt like it, without having any reason for it, without having to prepare an explanation for it to give to authorities.

That's what 1070 turns on its head. In the USSR, you were presumed to be doing something wrong, and had to prove to authorities that you weren't. In the US, you were presumed to be doing nothing wrong, and it was up to the authorities to prove that you were. 1070 moves us from the US way of doing things, towards the USSR way of doing things.

I'm a staunch opponent of illegal immigration. I support the CBP and if they say they need a fence between us and Mexico, I'm going to give it to them. I think we should change our Constitution so a child born to an illegal in the U.S. is not automatically granted U.S. citizenship. I think hispanics advocating going easy on illegals simply because of their cultural relationship are nuts and reverse-racist. Heck, I question the SCotUS decision that illegals have Constitutional rights merely be being on U.S. soil.

But 1070 is one step too far. It violates a fundamental, unwritten founding principle of the U.S. That the individual is always to be presumed innocent, and the burden of proof rests on the state to prove otherwise before taking action.

RE: Or....
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2010 11:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You have not read 1070. There is no conflict between it and the 4th Amendment. 1070 does not permit officers to engage in any searches or seizures that they weren't already permitted to do under law.

Again, every figure of note on the political stage, making the "unconstitutional" assertion, has stepped back from that charge after actually reading the bill.

RE: Or....
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2010 11:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
To up the ante: If you think there is some aspect of 1070 (as far as legislation goes, it's a fairly light read) that violates the 4th amendment, please cite and quote the text for all to see. Violations of the Constitution need to be exposed, and if you truly felt so passionate about it, you'd leap at the chance. I'll wait.

RE: Or....
By DrKlahn on 6/25/2010 9:55:17 AM , Rating: 2
Solandri it does not go against the 4th Amendment at all. Law Enforcement must already have you detained for another infraction to perform this check. Please read the bill.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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