Access to Innovative Technology Helping Agency Secure Border
WESLACO – Technology is adding to the efforts to decrease the number of people crossing the border illegally.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a sub-agency of DHS, released new numbers that show a new low in illegal crossings and an increase in apprehensions.
Rio Grande Valley business owner Nancy Perrett said she welcomes the change. She recently opened a natural juice and snack shop.
“(I’m) trying to get this place as beautiful as I can for people to come have fun with kids,” she said.
Perrett said a decrease in illegal traffic is helping her succeed.
“We have a lot of kids around the area, and we also have events once in a while like movie nights and all that,” she said. “We don’t want people to be afraid of things like this happening.”
A key part of the effort to decrease illegal crossings is the technology agents are using, according to CBP.
Border Patrol agent Isaac Villegas said mobile surveillance towers throughout the Valley are used as an extra pair of eyes.
“If it’s a group of 20, then we know that we need more agents in the area to make sure that they get taken care of. If it’s a drug load, we know exactly what kind of drugs or actually what kind of bundles are coming across… This raid tower helps us figure it out,” he said.
Villegas said the raid towers can also spot illegal activity whether it be day or night. The towers’ live video images provide agents with real-time information.
Tactical Aerostat and Relocatable program manager Nanette Peterson said mobile surveillance towers were first brought to the Valley by the Department of Defense in 2014.
“We’re using excess equipment DOD doesn’t need anymore. It’s been transferred to CBP for use and Homeland Security-type aspects,” she said.
Border Patrol agents said the mobile surveillance cameras are used in areas that are most needed. They can be raised from 80 to 100 feet.
When asked about privacy issues, CBP responded with the following statement:
“Our use of technology for investigatory purposes is consistent with case law, federal regulation and the Fourth Amendment.”