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Border Drones Fly Into Fight Over Immigration

June 12, 2013 (1 min read)

"The runways at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., are busy. This is where the Army tests its military drones, where it trains its drone pilots, and where four Customs and Border Protection drones take off and land.  From here, the CBP drones survey the Arizona-Mexico border — mainly looking for immigrants and drug smugglers.  In a hangar next to the runway, Customs and Border Protection officer David Gasho swivels a globe hanging from a drone's underbelly.   The globe contains a $2 million surveillance package — a night camera, a day camera, a low-light camera and laser target illumination. The drone's biggest selling point is that it can stay in the air for 20 hours.  Given budget problems, Gasho says, there isn't enough money to keep them up that long.  "We are barely hanging on five days a week, 16 hours a day here," he says.  "It is very tight to do what we're doing right now."  Yet the immigration bill now under consideration by the U.S. Senate calls for drones to fly 24/7.  Supporters say that means more drones are needed.  But critics argue there's no evidence the drones already flying are cost-effective." - Ted Robbins, June 11, 2013.