The Texas Department of Public Safety is recommending the addition of up to 4,000 cameras to be placed along the US-Mexico border, in an effort to curb the burgeoning human trafficking trade and other illicit activity.
“The border can only be secure if every smuggling event is detected, and currently, there are 1,224 cameras deployed throughout the border region,” the DPS said in a declassified report released this week, adding that the agency had already been directed to acquire 4,000 cameras in December.
“A sufficient number of these cameras can establish an impenetrable detection capability within zones along the border,” DPS argues, claiming the extra surveillance devices would allow for an “exact level of detection coverage.”
The report details the costs and effectiveness of former Governor Rick Perry’s “Operation Strong Safety,” an effort launched last June amid the immigration surge which sent additional Texas Troopers, the Texas National Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife personnel to the Rio Grande Valley.
The DPS report goes on to describe many of the national security issues plaguing Texas’ porous southern border region, including the area’s vulnerability to violent cartels, criminals and even possibly terrorists.
“The ascension of the Mexican cartels as the state’s and nation’s most significant organized crime threat – and Mexico’s most significant domestic security threat – is directly attributable to a porous U.S.- Mexico border and an unending demand in the U.S. for illegal drugs, forced labor, and commercial sex,” DPS says.
“Deported criminal aliens too often exploit the porous border and return to Texas to commit additional crimes,” the report adds, admitting that “a percentage” of illegal aliens commit crimes such as homicide, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and sex trafficking.
DPS’ report also highlights instances in which Somali immigrants penetrated the South Texas border, making the case for deployment of up to 500 additional troopers and expanded 10-hour work shifts.
“One was investigated by the FBI in a federal fraud investigation and had terrorist ties to Al-Barakat, Al-Ittihad and Al-Islami,” reports Action 4 News. “He was also identified as a guerrilla fighter and human smuggler who helped other Somali’s cross into the U.S., the report states.”
Although the border is in desperate need of attention stemming from the Obama administration’s intentional failure to secure it, Valley residents have mixed emotions over the cameras and additional police presence, with some fearing they would make Big Brother too close of a reality.
“So then we’re not in America anymore? Because where is the freedom in that? That’s too much control,” one man expressed to KGBT.
“I’m against them staying here. It’s too much law enforcement — every half-mile,” another Valley resident said, commenting on the prevalence of trooper vehicles.
Others say the cameras are wasted money and effort and will have little if any effect.
“You can’t secure the border with cameras,” said one Facebook commentor. “You can’t secure 30 miles of border leaving hundreds of border unsecured! The cameras make it clear that there is no will to secure the border.”
The US Border Patrol also utilizes a number of aerial surveillance blimps, known as aerostats, to assist agents in the Rio Grande Valley, though they bring their own privacy concerns.
“For border residents, more mass surveillance gadgets in the sky simply add to the sense of being under siege,” Director of Communications for the ACLU of Texas, Tom Hargis, told The Monitor last September.
“The extraordinary authority that government possesses on this border continues to spill over the lives of regular Americans. Instead of a targeted effort to stop crime, what we’ve been seeing is an approach such as dragnet surveillance that turns us all into suspects,” Hargis stated.