McCain, Booker Call on Border Patrol to Use Drones, Data Analytics

This portion of border fence separates San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The U.S. Border Patrol apprehends 1 percent to 2 percent of the drugs smugglers move across the Mexican border into the United States, said Deputy Chief Carla Provost. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thinks drones could help Border Patrol monitor the flow of these substances.

Heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and marijuana are among the substances that fuel the drug trade in the U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said that 120 people in America die of heroin overdoses every day, including five people in his home state.

McCain said that Border Patrol needs to reach out to the military, which has been flying drones in Arizona, and find a way to use that technology to help their mission. He said, despite the agency’s slight improvement in stopping incoming drugs, Border Patrol has a long way to go.

Drones are flying out of Arizona, and you’re not coordinating with them, which is crazy,” McCain said. “Just because it’s slightly better, it is totally unsatisfactory.”

Better use of resources, including drones, is a major priority for Border Patrol in the upcoming year, according to Mark Morgan, chief of Border Patrol. Morgan, who testified at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Border Patrol leadership on Nov. 30, acknowledged the agency needs tools beyond the K-9 agents they use to sniff out drugs.

However, Border Patrol has not yet petitioned for help from Operation Phalanx, a fleet of Army National Guard (ARNG) soldiers assigned to provide technical support and spot border intrusions. Portman stated that Border Patrol needs to make its demands clear so it can improve stopping the movement of drugs into the country.

“It’s a very small number you’re able to stop,” Portman said. “You’re using all the resources you have, but obviously it’s not working. Submit in writing what you need to make progress in stopping the flow of poisons into our country.”

Morgan, who has been in his position as chief for four months, also said that he plans to improve data analytics within the agency. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said that analyzing officer behavior helped him when he served as mayor of Newark, and that this data analysis would be beneficial for Border Patrol as well.

Booker also mentioned that Border Patrol has a dearth of female employees; Provost corroborated that only 5 percent of Border Patrol officials are women. Provost, who has been deputy chief for a month and has been with Border Patrol since 1995, said she started her career as a police officer. She said that the agency will begin to diversify its employees in the coming year, in addition to analyzing data more thoroughly.

“We’ve seen lots of improvement of data collection. We have further to go,” Provost said. “We’re taking a lot of steps.”

One Comment
  1. Anonymous | - Reply
    First, get rid of the Obama administrations policies that invite an invasion of Central Americans since 2009. Our U.S. Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers are tied up wet nursing and processing Central Americans, Haitians, Cubans (why do we still have wet foot, dry foot for Cubans?) and Eretrians, so they can enter and remain in the U.S. (without vetting, other than a cursory check to see if they have been previously handled by U.S. authorities) to pursue worthless asylum/refugee applications. Fleeing poverty, crime and corrupt governments doesn't meet the statutes for granting such relief. If it did, more than half the world would already be in America. Hopefully, Trump will cancel those "paroles" and remove these people. Once the message goes out to the world that America intends to enforce it's immigration laws, the invasion should be greatly reduced. Drones are nice, but far more expensive than manned aircraft with heat seeking/infrared technology. We need to get our manning levels back up to the current authorized level and then seek legislation to increase the numbers. It takes agents on the ground to interdict what drones and manned aircraft discover. We also need to get Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) back into the game combatting transnational crime organizations through enforcing our immigration laws. Those aren't leprechauns smuggling and distributing that meth, cocaine and heroin. Have ICE freed up from processing, transporting and wet nursing aliens pursuing worthless asylum/refugee applications. They should be chasing and arresting and deporting ethnic gang bangers, and other criminal aliens. Return to the 287(g) program (the section of of law under the Immigraion & Nationality Act that allowed the training/certification of local and state police officer to enforce immigration law. It was started under President George W. Bush, and worked like a charm as a force multiplier, until Obama brought it to a screeching halt. So you see, it takes more than just drones, it takes a total robust approach from every level of government. Sanctuary should be for Americans and our invited guests, only!

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