Group Uses Cameras, Recorders to Monitor Activity
The Obama Administration claims the southern border is as safe as it has ever been. But one citizen group is out to debunk that claim...and they've got footage to prove it. The group, called Secure Border Intelligence (SBI), is based in Arizona and is a volunteer organization. They use small motion-activated cameras placed along heavy smuggling routes and trails near the border to record activity. SBI also monitors communications between Border Patrol agents. It's all part of an effort to provide a much clearer picture of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border than the one given by the Department of Homeland Security. What SBI has found is that often hundreds of illegal immigrants are coming across the border daily, along with massive drug smuggling and trafficking that is increasingly difficult for agents to get under control.
Curtis Collier, President of U.S. Border Watch, says SBI's tactics will definitely provide a more accurate measure of border security. "For years we've only estimated border entries and how many people leave based on the number of people we take into custody." He tells KTRH that using cameras is an effective tool at getting a better idea of the problem, but it's only one part of the solution. The other part is having the manpower to carry out enforcement. "(In the past) we could see stuff happening on the border, and we just didn't have enough personnel to respond to it," he says. "And we could have that same situation with this as well." The federal government claims the "manpower" issue is being addressed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it has more than doubled the size of the Border Patrol since 2004. The CBP also touts its use of "effective surveillance technology" in the highest trafficked areas of the border.
SBI members are staying anonymous, saying they want the information they're gathering to speak for itself. Longtime border watchers like Collier think it is a worthy effort. "Anything you can use down there that could increase arrest numbers, get a more accurate account of what's really going on, and give the ability to see things when you're not there, is certainly a benefit," he says. Nevertheless, Collier isn't sure the idea would be as effective in Texas as it is in Arizona. "We do have a very vast border in Texas...it's not like they can just put a few (cameras) down there and expect to get any results at all."
Check out video of the aftermath of the 2010 Nuevo Laredo shootout near the Texas border.