The US Border Patrol has been using a drone program for nearly a decade to help stem illegal immigration across the US border. The program’s efficacy is now under question following an internal report tabled by John Roth, Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security.
The 8 year old program currently employs a fleet of 9 Predator B drones, which were designed to fly over US borders to spot alien immigrants and smugglers. The program was scheduled to receive an additional $443 million to its operating budget this year. The 2014 end of fiscal year audit filed by Roth has advised against this expansion, however.
In his report, Roth found that close to 78 percent of the surveillance efforts of the drone program had to be called off due to maintenance issues, inclement weather or budgetary concerns. Even when the drones were up and running, the contributions were deemed ineffective. For instance, in 2013, 3 drones were deployed along the Tucson region, which eventually led to 2,200 arrests. This equates to only about 2 per cent of the total 120,100 arrests that were made in the area, for the same year.