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The Case for Tech Over Concrete on Mexican Border

Ron Nixon - The New York Times
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September 6, 2017
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The Wall of Eyes Trained on the US-Mexico Border: There's more to the border than just a wall. (Vox)

From a compact, portable shed on the outskirts of this border town, Jonathan Hoyt has an expansive field of vision. His computer is linked to cameras and surveillance equipment that allow him to see rubber rafts on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande nearly three miles away, simply by moving a tiny joystick.

Mr. Hoyt, a Border Patrol agent, is using equipment that the Defense Department brought back from Afghanistan, where it was used to track the Taliban. It is part of a potent arsenal that also includes towers, drones and aerostats — giant blimps attached to the ground that can hover as high as 5,000 feet. Helicopters using powerful infrared sensors and video cameras also patrol the skies.

Law enforcement officials say that deploying this array of technology has resulted in tens of thousands of arrests on a border that remains a primary transit point for drug smuggling and migrants crossing into the country illegally.

Despite President Trump’s calls for a massive wall to secure the border — which Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, ridiculed as a “14th-century solution to a 21st-century problem” — the fight against illegal immigration and drug trafficking on the United States-Mexico border has increasingly become high tech.

Predator drone aircraft, “aerostats and towers fill in existing gaps along the border where Border Patrol just doesn’t have the manpower,” said David Aguilar, a former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and now a principal at Global Security and Innovative Strategies, a consulting firm in Washington.

“It allows them a view of what is happening on the border,” Mr. Aguilar said, and to “deploy resources to respond to people crossing or drug smuggling.”

... While the technology makes it easier and faster to track smuggling and drugs, it also makes it easier to track innocent people.

Read the rest at The New York Times | Leer en español

Related: See-Through Border Wall Prototype Contracts Awarded by Customs and Border Protection (ABC News)

Related: Mexico Won't Pay for the Border Wall But Young Illegals Will if They Stay (JournalInquirer.com)


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