Homeland Security: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Border Surveillance [July 8, 2010] [open pdf - 141KB]
"Congress has expressed a great deal of interest in using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to surveil the United States' international land border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) utilizes advanced technology to augment its USBP [U.S. Border Patrol] agents' ability to patrol the border, including a fleet of six UAVs. This report examines the strengths and limitations of deploying UAVs along the borders and related issues for Congress. [...] Recent attention has focused on the expanding area of operations for CBP-operated UAVs. On June 23, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a certificate of authorization requested by CBP, clearing the UAV flights along the Texas border and Gulf region. Other requests have reportedly been delayed due to safety concerns, some of which stem from previous incidents. Despite safety concerns, some policymakers continue to call for the increased domestic use of UAVs. The Supplemental Appropriations Bill of FY2010 (H.R. 4899) would include $32 million for the acquisition of two additional UAVs by CBP."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21698