Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas introduced an amendment to the emergency war supplemental to make $144 million available to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expand the presence of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, along the southwestern border of the United States. The funding would allow CBP to obtain and operate at least six new drone systems and hire systems pilots with the goal of covering the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California every day of the week.
"Failure of the federal government to effectively secure our borders threatens the safety of border communities and puts our national security at risk. To address illegal immigration and to protect communities from the violence associated with narco-terrorism and drug and arms trafficking, we must employ state-of-the-art border monitoring and security techniques," said Hutchison. "I have introduced legislation that will give border enforcement officials the resources and the manpower to monitor all 2,000 miles of our shared border every single day. UAVs and other high-tech tools must be a part of our 21st century approach to keeping our nation safe."
The CBP reports that only about 700 miles of the 2,000 mile-long southern border are under effective control. Portions of the southern border that are ineffectively monitored become open portals for drug cartels, arms dealers, human traffickers, and even terrorists. Aerial surveillance using UAVs is a force multiplier, and it allows border enforcement officials to more efficiently and consistently monitor the border and respond to illicit activity.
The amendment makes available $144,000,000 to CBP, and the amount is offset by uncommitted funding from the American Recovery and Investment Act. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are cosponsors.