Yesterday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it is buying adapted and unarmed versions of Predator drones — unmanned aircraft commonly used in war zones — to patrol the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for smugglers. Chris Simcox, leader of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and U.S. Senate candidate, doesn’t think it’s enough. On Fox and Friends today, Simcox announced that his plan is to redirect a billion dollars from Afghanistan to putting 100 drones on the border:
We need to roll out more. We’re spending a billion dollars for drones around the world, let’s spend a billion dollars to put drones on our borders first, rather than Afghanistan. And put 30,000 troops on our border. A billion dollars could fund that and create thousands of technological jobs for our video-game age students coming out of college. Look, we can fly these drones and pick up the enemy from the comfort of the control room and never put another soldier on the battlefield.
However, the union for Border Patrol agents has criticized the drones as costly and inefficient and would rather see the money going towards adding workers and equipment on the ground. T. J. Bonner, president of the Border Patrol union, remarked:
Unmanned aircraft serve a very useful role in military combat situations, but are not economical or efficient in civilian law enforcement applications. There are a number of other technologies that are capable of providing a greater level of usefulness at a far lower cost. It appears that the contractors have once again managed to sell a bill of goods to the politicians and bureaucrats who oversee the procurement of technology designed to secure our borders.
Immigrant rights activist Anike Tourse of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles takes a slightly different approach. “Immigration doesn’t need high technology or military enforcement,” says Tourse. “What is really needed is immigration reform that will work toward keeping families safe and together.” According to Tourse, enforcement without reform hasn’t worked in the past.
The Associated Press reports that border officials plan on eventually having 12 drones for land patrols and six for maritime patrols. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps as being a “nativist extremist” group.