Last Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General released a statement along with a report assessing the progress of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use of unmanned aircraft (drones) along the U.S. southwest border. Inspector General John Roth’s appraisal of CBP’s program was scathing, dubbing the drones “dubious achievers” and reporting that their use has only had a “minimal” impact in stemming illegal immigration.
According to Roth’s statement, drone surveillance along the U.S. southwest border helped with fewer than 2% of captures of people crossing the border illegally during fiscal year 2013. The statement also states that the majority of drone deployment was limited to two smaller stretches of border in Arizona and Texas, while CBP had claimed drones were used along the entire 1,993 miles of the border. The report also found that operating the drones was nearly five times as costly as originally estimated.
“Notwithstanding the significant investment, we see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border, and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time,” Inspector General Roth said in his statement. Instead, Roth recommended CBP scrap plans to spend $443 million on additional unmanned aircraft systems, suggesting it put the money to better use.
This is the inspector general’s second report on the subject since 2012.
For more information about the DHS inspector general’s report, please follow the links below.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations, Office of Inspector General
CBP Drones are Dubious Achievers, Office of Inspector General
U.S. border drone program understates cost, efficiency: report, Reuters
Border drones are ineffective, badly managed, too expensive, official says, LA Times