I am reading a book called Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration by Douglas S. Massy, Jorge Durand and Nolan J. Malone. Although it was published in 2002 the information based on empirical data is a good summary of immigration at the southern border up to 2002.
After reading the “Enlisting in the War on Drugs” chapter I remembered the enactment of the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that officially broadened the Border Patrol’s duties to include narcotics as well as immigration enforcement.
Now it is difficult to distinguish who is who as both groups travel in the darkness of the underworld. This lack of distinction opens the door to treating refugees as criminals.
In the Border Patrol meetings that I attend, there has been a sharing of video recordings of the capture of border-crossers taken from a device called a tethered aerostat balloon. If you saw the balloon, you would think it was a blimp. Basically, it is an unmanned radar and camera system that can fly as high as 15,000 feet and records 24/7. The information collected is available to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Aerostat, makes catching drug smugglers and people smugglers less time- and labor-intensive, and is an example of how this one resource can assist in both areas. Perhaps its use could also be extended to assist in rescue and in the issuance of humanitarian aid!
The Aerostat also takes away the privacy of anyone in a 20 mile radius. The Aerostat flies within the 100-Mile Border Zone, sometimes referred to near the southern border as “the constitution-free zone” – it seems that efforts at border protection trump any constitutional freedoms. To see a map of the 100-Mile Border Zone click here. It is thought provoking.
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