Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Does the US-Mexico Border Really Need 24/7 Drone Service?


President George Bush and a CBP Predator, via Rhizome.

By now you've maybe heard a bit about the so-called Gang of Eight immigration bill being mulled over in the Senate. Among other things, the proposed legislation (.pdf) calls for total aerial-drone awareness of the US-Mexico border--this for a border-security complex that for years hasn't ever been able to get its shit together

Customs and Border Protection already sits on a fleet of seven unarmed Predator and three unarmed Guardian drones. When they're actually used (which is not too often compared to other means of "securing the border"), the Predators stay aloft for up to 20 hours at a stretch during five-day work weeks. If the Gang of Eight has its way, the 1,950-mile border would be watched by not only more Predators, but 24/7, 365-days a year.   

Not that we didn't see this coming, or anything. The reality, of course, is that drones, however defined, are as about as "good" as they are "really bad" at a seemingly infinite list of potential uses. So when it comes to securing one of the most volatile and heavily-trafficked borders in the world, is it really as simple as just throwing more drones at the problem?  

It isn't.

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