CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES — Although the Border Patrol has many expensive, often high-tech tools at its disposal — drones, helicopters, tethered balloons, and fixed-wing planes in the air and an impressive array of sensors and alarm systems on the ground — it is obvious that sometimes technology helps the other side.
Here are some examples:
Their Drones. Ominously, the Border Patrol reported earlier this month that smugglers’ drones, usually two to four feet wide, are being used to ferry drugs from Mexico to the United States.
That’s bad enough, but suppose the drug cartels invested a bit of money and devised drones that could carry an illegal alien to a designated spot well north of the Border Patrol’s highway check points. The illegal in question, once on the earth again, would press a button to send the drone back to its home base and climb into a car that had been pre-positioned for him to drive further into the United States. Far fetched? Maybe, and too expensive for the usual illegal migrant, but let’s look at this scenario in 2021 and see if this has come to pass.
Hacking Our Drones. Meanwhile, our expensive drones — once hyped as a major weapon along the border — have been exposed as not sophisticated enough to withstand what sounds to this non-techie like a garden-variety attack. A website devoted to cyber security reports that the Patrol’s drones can be tricked into looking in the wrong direction for illicit activity at the border. This can be done by “sending wrong GPS coordinates that [appear] to be generated by the authentic source.”
The more expensive DOD drones are equipped to fight off such distractions.
Their Cell Phones. Technology also offers a safety net for illegals whose entry attempts have failed. Illegal aliens finding themselves lost, dehydrated, or injured in the desert — sometimes all three — can, if they had a little foresight, use their cell phones to ring up 911 and soon the Border Patrol will rescue them, give them medical attention, if needed, and, in all likelihood, push them back to Mexico at the nearest port-of-entry, giving them a chance to try the desert again the next night.
Their Tunnels. Speaking of the Border Patrol and technology, there is one area where the Patrol continues to need a little help. Although the methodology for digging tunnels under fences or walls dates back to the Middle Ages, if nor earlier, the Border Patrol remains (apparently) without the scientific tools needed to detect such activities. Recently another press release reported that the Border Patrol learned about an incomplete tunnel the old fashioned way; Mexican authorities noticed the other end of it and informed the Border Patrol. It extended about 30 feet beyond our border in downtown Nogales, Ariz., where many earlier tunnels have been built.
Technology in the immigration field is not always on our side.