Steve Inskeep
March 22, 2014

We drove 2,428 miles on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and it’s safe to say that for much of the road trip, we were being watched.

Border Patrol agents, customs officers, cameras, sensors, radar and aircraft track movement in the Borderland. None of that has stopped the struggle to control the border, or the debate over how best to do it.

The Border Patrol — part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection — allowed us a look inside the communications center at its headquarters in Laredo, Texas. The room had no windows, just a giant wall of screens. The Border Patrol has mounted cameras high on steel poles overlooking the Rio Grande, which in this sector is the border.

Agents in cubicles watched the monitors. A whiteboard on the wall was covered with emergency numbers to call: the Drug Enforcement Administration, air evacuation, and also a phone number labeled “Unmanned Drone.”

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