US to Deploy Drones to Shore Up Border with Mexico

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Agence France-Presse

US to Deploy Drones to Shore Up Border with Mexico

by
Jordi Zamora

Predator drones will be used to patrol the border and in nearby areas in the Gulf of Mexico, once Congress approves the 500 million dollars President Barack Obama has requested, Napolitano said in a Washington speech. (AP)

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to deploy two drone aircraft
along the Texas-Mexico border as part of a new effort to stem organized
crime and illegal immigration, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano
said Wednesday.

The two Predator drones will be used to patrol
the border and in nearby areas in the Gulf of Mexico, once Congress
approves the 500 million dollars President Barack Obama has requested,
Napolitano said in a Washington speech.

"These types of flights
aren't necessary everywhere," she said in comments to the Center for
Strategic and International Studies. "But this is the case in the Texas
border."

The United States currently has four drones patrolling
the border with Mexico in Arizona and one in the northern border with
Canada in the state of North Dakota, according to the Department of
Homeland Security.

Napolitano said the new aircraft are part of a
reinforcement of border patrol efforts including one thousand
additional agents and 60 investigators.

"Over the past 18 months,
this administration has devoted more resources -- including manpower,
technology and infrastructure -- to the Southwest border than at any
point in America's history," she said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry had requested delivery of the planes, which the US used extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The
Obama administration is seeking to step up security as it presses for a
comprehensive immigration reform measure that likely would allow many
of the millions of illegal migrants in the United States to legalize
their status.

Many Republican lawmakers say no immigration
measure can be considered unless the federal government can ensure
security along the southern US border to prevent a spillover of
violence from Mexico.

Napolitano also announced a number of new
cooperation agreements with law enforcement in non-border states to
send personnel to southwest border.

DHS said it is working on a
system that will fully link the information systems of all state, local
and tribal law enforcement entities operating along the southwest
border with those of the federal government.

"Border security is
primarily a responsibility of federal government," she said. "We cannot
have 50 different state legislations. It will not work."

The
remark was aimed at a controversial Arizona law that allows police to
question persons suspected of being illegal immigrants.

The
agency said it was developing "Project Roadrunner," a license plate
reader recognition system aimed at detecting drug trafficking and
associated illegal activity along the border.

In a related
comment in Congress, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said the
security situation will influence the debate on immigration.

"There
are those in the Senate who believe we should basically militarize our
borders and until we do, until we meet some standard of militarization,
we cannot tackle the issue of comprehensive immigration reform," he
said.

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