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Tag: immigration

Virtual Surveillance Towers Show Promise As Alternative to Steel, Concrete Border Walls

Construction of a border wall, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steel and concrete border walls get all the media hype, but a new mobile technology may prove to be a far more effective and inexpensive way to combat illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying out telescoping surveillance towers on the Arizona border that can track illegal crossers with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders, NPR reports. Capable of tracking a target miles away, the autonomous surveillance towers can be mounted on a pickup truck and operated remotely.

“The camera sees something, it’s going to alert and send that information to an agent in the field. So my iPhone will have an app on it and that information will come directly to me,” Kelly Good, deputy executive director of CBP’s Program Management Office Directorate, says.

Steel and concrete walls, however, appear to be the Trump administration’s priority.

“We now are in a time where we can build this virtual border wall technology. We have that already. I mean, you got the autonomous surveillance towers,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat from a border district, says. “But there’s political pressure from the White House. They’re saying, ‘Build me the wall. Get me miles.’ “

Feds Find ‘Most Sophisticated Tunnel in U.S. History’ at Border with Mexico

Inside the unfinished tunnel, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The discovery shocked federal agents: An unfinished tunnel that ran from San Louis, Ariz., to a Mexican neighborhood featured a ventilation system, electrical wiring, water lines, a rail system and extensive reinforcement.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” Carl E. Landrum, acting chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, said, The Associated Press reports.

Discovered by Homeland Security Investigations in late July, officials believe it was intended for smuggling.

The tunnel was 3 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Excavation work on the tunnel, via ICE.

CBP Awards $289.5M Contract for 17 Miles of Wall Construction in Laredo Sector in Texas

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection has announced a $289.5 million contract to build about 17 miles of contagious new border walls within Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Webb County, Texas.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company, DBA Fisher Industries, received the contract, CBP said Monday.

With the apprehension of nearly 22,000 undocumented immigrants and the seizure of more than 30,000 pounds of drugs so far this fiscal year, the Laredo Sector is one of the busiest in the U.S.

Most of the illegal activate is occurring in areas where the sector lacks infrastructure, access and technology, CBP says.

The plan is part of President Trump’s aggressive push for new wall construction.

“These projects will improve Laredo Sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations,” CBP said.

House Democrats Call for Severe Funding Cuts to ICE, Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats announced a plan Monday to severely cut the budgets of Border Patrol and ICE to reduce Homeland Security’s deportation operations.

The House Appropriations Committee introduced the fiscal 2021 spending bill, which would halt the hiring of new Border Patrol agents, prevent additional construction on President Trump’s border wall, and stop the detention of families, The Washington Times reports.

Under the plan, watchdog groups would receive a boost in funding to oversee ICE operations.

ICE’s deportation and detention division would be reduced to $3.3 billion, a $1.1 billion cut.

“Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security funding, said.

Border Patrol Asks Contractors: How Can We Stop People from Breaching the New Walls

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

They built the walls, but they’re not working as planned.

Soldiers managed to destroy walls in San Diego. Smugglers are doing the same.

Now Border Patrol is asking contractors for ways to “leapfrog current technology to dramatically improve efficacy,” Arizona Public Media reports.

Could paint make it easier to see people breaching walls? What about sensors? They’re among the questions being barnstormed to make the walls more effective.

By the end of the year, the U.S. government has a goal of building 450 miles of walls. So far, it has built about 182 miles.

But the walls are being breached almost as quickly as they’re being built.

Border Patrol declined to comment.

Mexicans Caught Illegally Crossing Border Are Now Flown to Mexico City

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Mexicans who cross illegally into the U.S. are being sent to Mexico City, Border Patrol said Tuesday, citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

In the past, Mexicans caught crossing into the U.S. illegally were usually sent back to border cities.

The move comes on the same day that CDC extended its policy to end asylum at the border, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Mexicans who illegally cross into the U.S. will now be held until they are expatriated to Mexico City.

Border Patrol leaders said the change was in response to an increase in Mexicans trying to cross into the U.S. Some of those caught crossing the border were repeat offenders, Border Patrol said.

“The overarching goal of these repatriation flights is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 into the U.S. and reduce the strain on Mexico’s resources along the border,” Border Patrol said in a statement.

Coronavirus Claims Life of First ICE Detainee; 705 Others Have Tested Positive

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The first ICE detainee to die from the coronavirus was a 57-year-old El Salvador man who had become ill at the Otay Messa Detention Center in San Diego.

“He contracted (Covid-19) at the facility,” the senior immigration official told CNN. “As soon as he tested positive he was sent to the hospital. He died there.”

Immigration rights groups have filed lawsuits against ICE, arguing the facilities are not adequately protecting detainees from the deadly coronavirus.

“The heartbreaking tragedy at Otay Mesa could have been prevented had US immigration officials heeded the recommendations of medical experts and acted in time,” Dr. Ranit Mishori, a senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, said in a statement Wednesday. “Thousands of doctors, advocates, and even the former acting head of ICE have been sounding the alarm for months about the grave risks of immigration detention amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The government cannot say it did not know this would happen.”

Six weeks ago, ICE announced its first detainee to test positive for COVID-19.

Nearly half of the ICE detainees tested so far – 705 – have a confirmed infection, according to ICE.

Populations at ICE Detention Centers for Migrant Families Are Down

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE is holding fewer migrants at three family detention centers, where the numbers declined 826 last week, a 39% decline, a federal judge said during a court hearing Monday.

The three facilities hold families in Texas and Pennsylvania, and federal authorities are doing a better job following CDC guidelines, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of Washington, D.C., said, according to The Washington Post.

The judge, who is considering a request to release families from the detention facilities, ordered ICE to disclose more information about COVID-19 testing and its supplies to help sick people.

“I don’t think . . . you’ve made the showing that [bulk] release is necessary at this point,” Boasberg told attorneys for assisting migrant families seeking asylum. “But what I am interested in is . . . particular categories of information that you seek, and I think requiring the government to provide that information would both benefit this litigation, but would also benefit your clients.”

ICE says none of the detainees has tested positive for the virus.