“I receive campaign contributions from those companies that produce aircraft, that produce technology—in this case, unmanned aerial vehicles—just like I’ve received money from media PACs,” Cuellar said. “They never ask me if their contribution affects me.”

CBP’s Predator fleet has also been criticized for its potential impact on the privacy of U.S. citizens. Amie Stepanovich, a legal counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center: EPIC said that the use of drones by federal agencies could lead to an overall increase in the surveillance of ordinary citizens.

“They make surveillance cheaper,” Stepanovich said in a phone interview. “So where it costs so many hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to purchase and operate a helicopter, doing the same thing with a drone is significantly cheaper.”

Back Country Voices

VIDEO:U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, on the Gulf Coast of Texas, use unmanned aerial systems or “drones” to remotely patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Video By Trahern Jones and Alex Lancial.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Despite critical reports saying that the use of drones to patrol the nation’s borders is inefficient and costly, the leading Congressional proposal for immigration reform would drastically expand their use.

In fact, the compromise bill would have U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which currently has a fleet of 10 Predator drones, using the unmanned aircraft to patrol the southern border with Mexico 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An expanded drone program is also sure to draw the ire of privacy advocates who already worry that increasing use of unmanned aircraft will result in intrusive surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The proposal…

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