Using Drones For Border Security: Four Facts To Consider
By Melanie Fox on 07/31/2012 @ 05:07 PM
Although drones are normally something we think of as being used to find and target terrorists in a far away land, they have been screening U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico since 2005. Here a few more facts to consider about drones on the border:
1. There are 9 drones currently monitoring the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. Border Drone #10 is slated to roll out in September 2012.
2. Drones are an expensive border enforcement tactic. An hour of flight time costs $3,600, while it costs about $7,054 for each illegal immigrant or smuggler caught by drones. In addition, $14 million is reportedly the initial cost of purchasing a drone and $250 million is the cost of buying and maintaining all drones since they began monitoring the border in 2005.
3. Drones only lead to a small fraction of arrests made on U.S. borders. According to Washington Post article, "drone operations have led to the apprehension of 4,865 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers since the program began. Those numbers are not very impressive. A total of 327,577 illegal migrants were caught at the southwestern border in fiscal 2011, meaning the drones have contributed only to a fraction of arrests."
4. Drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles) are less effective at capturing people and drugs than their counterpart planes staffed by an actual pilot.
According to an article by news source California Watch, "drones have assisted in the seizure of nearly 50,000 pounds of drugs and the detention of about 7,500 people. By comparison, decades-old P-3 Orion propeller planes, which once hunted submarines for the Navy, in the past five years have aided in the seizure or disruption of 863,000 pounds of drugs - including 148,000 pounds of cocaine last year alone. Agency officials have described the plane as an 'unsung hero.'"