Cuellar Calls on CBP for Border Surveillance Aircraft
Border Chairman Presses CBP to Deploy UAV Along Texas-Mexico Border
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, has requested Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to move swiftly without delay in placing an unmanned aerial vehicle along the Texas-Mexico Border to help gather critical intelligence information to combat drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and potential terrorism threats.Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, has requested Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to move swiftly without delay in placing an unmanned aerial vehicle along the Texas-Mexico Border to help gather critical intelligence information to combat drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and potential terrorism threats.
The UAV would be the first of its kind in Texas and would monitor the southern border along the Rio Grande. Congressman Cuellar and CBP will be meeting this April to discuss the aerial vehicle among other border security related issues.
“This aircraft would put eyes in the skies along our Texas border and help the United States handle the evolving threats associated with drug and weapons trafficking,” said Congressman Cuellar. “We need a flexible response to meet the threats of the 21st Century and a UAV in Texas is a common sense approach to further secure our Texas communities.”
Last week, Congressman Cuellar wrote a letter to David Aguilar, Acting Deputy Commissioner of CBP, to renew his request for CBP to deploy a UAV to the Texas-Mexico border. Three Predator B UAVs have monitored the southwest border since 2005 and Cuellar has called on CBP to deploy an identical aircraft to Texas since serving on the House Homeland Security Committee in Congress.
“I write to renew my request that U.S. Customs and Border Protection deploy identical aircraft along the Texas-Mexico border as soon as possible, and obtain all necessary certificates of approval without delay,” Congressman Cuellar wrote in a letter to CBP on February 16.
“The southwest border region, specifically from El Paso to Brownsville, Texas, would benefit greatly from a remote piloted aircraft,” Cuellar continues. “Our border with Mexico along the Rio Grande faces a unique set of challenges. In an effort to complement the work of our brave border patrol agents, such aircraft will enhance their capabilities and will also improve intelligence gathering to help ensure their safety.”
UAVs have played a pivotal role in gathering U.S. military intelligence abroad. Domestically, UAVs have been deployed to fill gaps in border surveillance along remote sections of the southwest border for the past five years. Cameras attached to the unmanned surveillance aircrafts can identify an object the size of a milk carton from an altitude of 60,000 feet, according to a 2008 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
“These unmanned surveillance crafts would augment, not replace, the on-the-ground efforts already underway and they would give us a window into the remote parts of our border we can’t patrol by land,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This is a homeland security solution to a border security challenge.”
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.