Unmanned aerial "Predator" drones to patrol US/Mexico border

Unmanned aerial "Predator" drones used by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones will soon be used to track persons crossing the US border illegally from Mexico. US military contractor General Atomics will unveil the drone at a press conference today. The aircraft will include electronic surveillance gear to spot humans from the air.


  1. It would actually be a lot more economical to use dirigibles. Also, it would sound cooler, make better headlines and be less controversial (because people hate UAVs for no apparent reason).

    Just think, “Illegals Aliens Tracked by Zeppelin”

    1. make better headlines and be less controversial (because people hate UAVs for no apparent reason)

      The fact that they’re called “Predator” drones probably doesn’t help. The first time I heard the phrase, I thought of the flying hunter-killers from “The Terminator.”

    2. will they play “The Immigrant Song” by Zeppelin? A spotlight illuminates the lone figure in the arroyo, while Robert Plant howls across the sand.

  2. I hope those illegal immigrants have leveled their Cold-blooded Perk up to Pro by the time this thing is online.

  3. The US Border Patrol and related agencies have been trying to do that for years but the FAA wont let them, its dangerous to have unmanned aircraft flying in civil airspace because the UAV operator is always looking to the ground instead of around for other aircraft. plus with their smaller size they are harder to see from another aircraft.

    Good idea in theory, but not executable as of now.

  4. Chris Csikszentmihaly at MIT Media Lab was doing something similar with RV aircraft a couple of years ago. He and his students would deploy their camera-equipped drones to monitor the Minutemen and other vigilante anti-immigrant groups who were monitoring the border for illegal immigrants.

    Maybe his drones will now monitor the government drones, at least until the government ones start shooting the independent drones down.

  5. Mexico´s new national sport drone shoot down… Drones soon to be seen as decoration on Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez bars.

  6. It’s definitely the name “predator” that sets people off. It suggests an alien thing that can turn invisible and might rip your spine out, for fun.

    “Drone” doesn’t help. Drones are usually qualified by words like, office, Borg, or hovering torture. A drone is something mindless that hums ominously as it blandly injects a captured princess with who-knows-what behind closed doors.

    1. Besides the names, you know what else is offputting? That they are piloted by the a-holes that killed you too much in Call of Duty, except now, instead of it being a game, they are actually anonymously spying on you and (optionally) vaporize you and your family with a hellfire missle. Sort of a bad PR spin for them.

  7. Not to sound too alarmist, but how long until the government starts tracking civilians with unmanned drones? Think about it, first it waging war, then its tracking illegal aliens, and soon it will be tracking criminals. The next step from there will be tracking civilians.

    Ok that does sound too alarmist. Still doesn’t remove the potential for abuse.

    1. Think about it, first it waging war, then its tracking illegal aliens, and soon it will be tracking criminals.

      the danger lays, as usual, with who gets to define ‘criminal’.

    2. Not long. There’s rumblings of using smaller versions of the predator for civilian surveillance. According to this story from back in July, the only thing keeping it from happening is FAA approval for the airspace. Sure, it’s Texas, where all the good crazy bad ideas come from.

  8. Yes, by all means let’s militarize the border, heedless of the fact that illegal immigration is never going to slow to a trickle without addressing the root causes of migration. Focusing on the border is no substitute for focusing on what’s pulling them in here- employers. I say let them hire illegals, we can’t really enforce that too easily. But carrot and stick’em. They can pay for immunity from prosecution for hiring illegal immigrants while being penalized with extraordinarily harsh sanctions for failure to pay this “extraneous tax”. Since this is somewhat higher than what we would get in actual tax revenue (since most of the paychecks get taxed by default anyway) we can stop being inhuman dicks to their kids and let them attend public schools and get in-state tuition. Meanwhile, we legalize and tax the various forms of mild or mostly harmless drugs that fuel Mexico’s corruption- problem almost solved.

    I’m not saying my one paragraph will bring about Utopia, but I get the feeling that if nothing else, my germ of an idea costs less than this brute force treatment of border security. (Unless we still buy into the “sneaky terr’ist” canard.)

    1. I don’t disagree with your points but, would the revenue received by taxing those who hire illegal’s cover the increased cost of services? Consider all the costs. Schooling, healthcare, social services, police and legal services etc. The root cause being Mexico is all but a failed state. Sure people want a better life. So, how do we improve Mexico’s economy?

  9. Since we have open borders, the only logical function of these things must be to assure that CIA drug shipments are not interfered with.

  10. This has already been done. Maybe not with Predators, but UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have already been patrolling the US-Mexico border for years now. Google search even brings up reports of predators on border as early as 2005. In fact, according to an industry insider I interviewed with, one UAV strayed off course and headed south and had to be chased down and “dispatched” over Mexican airspace.

  11. I’m with #15 Anonymous. It’s really time for a cheap countermeasure to UAVs–the AK47 of drone-killers. We’re clever monkeys. Anyone? For motivation, imagine the pilots high-fiving each other after a kill, like they’re Maverick and Iceman.

  12. I have a bit of a pet peeve regarding articles that put quotes around words that I don’t consider esoteric, e.g. “Predator” drones. Isn’t that a little bit like writing about driving a “Prius”, or using “computers” to connect to the “Internet”? Maybe I feel a little insulted that the author thinks I don’t know what these things are. Just a little neurosis on my part, nothing to worry about, but I thought I’d mention it.

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