Tom A. Peter
February 5, 2014

The grounding of the drone fleet that watches over America’s borders after a crash last week is highlighting a program that continues to expand, though questions remain about its effectiveness.

The crash involved a mechanical failure on a Predator B drone operated by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). When operators determined that the drone would be unable to reach its home base in Sierra Vista, Ariz., they crashed it into the sea.

In recent years, CBP has ramped up its drone program, which enjoys backing from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Indeed, with Republicans on Capitol Hill insisting that increased border security be an integral part of any immigration reform, the drone program could expand further in the years ahead.

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