Predator Drones: Four years of use in US border security in review

To learn more about coming to the U.S. without worrying about predator drones overhead, call a licensed immigration attorney who can help answer questions about the legal immigration processes.

To learn more about coming to the U.S. without worrying about predator drones overhead, call a licensed immigration attorney who can help answer questions about the legal immigration processes.

The use of predator drones in the war on drugs and to secure the US borders is hardly new. In 2010 many news reports covered the use of unmanned predator drones to patrol 2,000 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, from Texas to California. As time has passed, the war on drugs and immigrants crossing the border continues and more drones are being used. Much to the chagrin of Americans complaining about the price of the drone program and the loss of privacy, Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) has been able to increase the use of drones by supporting culture of fear in the U.S. to garner support the program.

The blogging world loves to talk about the drone program from both positive and negative viewpoints, often reporting shocking ideas. Putting the “extreme” aside, the following is a collection of news quotes and clips about predator drones and their use in border security from 2010 to 2014. Enjoy the articles and form your own independent opinion. The more you read from various sources the more you can piece together what is really happening out there.

2010 – CBS News – Predator Drones Shift From Battlefield to Border

“Most people coming across the border are either migrants or drug smugglers,” said Gasho. “We don’t know who they are. They could be terrorists. They could be people who have intentions of harm against the United States.”

“Policing the 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico is more than a full-time job for some 17,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents, but the predators help shrink that challenge. They’re able to peer miles into Mexico.”

“In the last five years, predators have helped net 40,000 pounds of drugs and nab 7,000 illegal immigrants, according to Homeland Security.”

2011 – Washington Post – More Predator Drones Fly US-Mexico Border

“Fans of the Predators say the $20 million aircraft are a perfect platform to keep a watchful eye on America’s rugged borders, but critics say the drones are expensive, invasive and finicky toys that have done little — compared with what Border Patrol agents do on the ground — to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, drug smugglers or terrorists.”

“Eight Predators fly for the Customs and Border Protection agency — five, and soon to be six, along the southwestern border. After a slow rollout that began in 2005, drones now patrol most of the southern boundary, from Yuma, Ariz., to Brownsville, Tex.”

“Planning documents for the CBP envision as many as 24 Predators and their maritime variants in the air by 2016, giving the agency the ability to deploy a drone anywhere over the continental United States within three hours.”

“Privacy watchdogs are concerned about the use of drones over domestic airspace. “The loss of privacy is real. You want to sunbathe in the nude on your own property? Now you can’t be sure nobody is watching you,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Americans will have to wonder if our enthusiasm for catching illegal immigrants is worth sacrificing our freedoms.””

“With an hour of flight time costing $3,600, it costs about $7,054 for each illegal immigrant or smuggler caught, based on numbers calculated from a recent Government Accountability Office report to Congress. The government has spent $240 million buying and maintaining its domestic drones, not including their operation.”

2012 – Huffington Post – U.S. Border Patrol Increases Use Of Unmanned Drones For Surveillance

“The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is ramping up its use of fancy technology to monitor the nation’s borders again — this time by opening up Washington’s airspace to two unmanned Predator drones.”

“The ACLU called drones “a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities.” This week, the AP also reported that “the government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground.” Such concerns have reportedly subsided as the technology becomes more widely adopted.”

2013 – New York Times – U.S. Border Agency Allows Others to Use Its Drones

“As Congress considers a new immigration law that would expand the fleet of unmanned drones along the border, the agency in charge of border protection is increasingly offering the military-grade drones it already owns to domestic law enforcement agencies and has considered equipping them with “nonlethal weapons,” according to documents recently made public.”

Regarding CBP, “Additionally, the agency, in a 2010 report to Congress included in the documents, raised the possibility of eventually equipping its drones with “nonlethal weapons” to “immobilize” people and vehicles trying to cross the border illegally. In a statement on Wednesday, the agency said it had “no plans to arm its unmanned aircraft systems with nonlethal weapons or weapons of any kind.””

2014 – Wall Street Journal – (1) U.S. Border Protection Agency Grounds Drone Fleet (January);

“The U.S. Customs and Border Protection grounded its fleet of drones after one lost power while flying Monday night and crashed in the Pacific Ocean.”

2014 – Immigration Prof Blog (2) Drones Back Patrolling U.S./Mexico Border (February)

“It continues to amaze me that the U.S. government uses drones to patrol the U.S./Mexico border, a tactic that strikes me as something out of a science fiction movie like “Escape from New York.””

To learn more about coming to the U.S. without worrying about predator drones overhead, call a licensed immigration attorney who can help answer questions about the legal immigration processes. Being intercepted and detained by CBP is not a fun way to start a new life in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including applications for temporary immigration relief and adjustments of immigration status. For more information about the law firm, please visit, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.