New congressional caucus formed to study border security technology

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) – A South Texas congressman has formed a new bipartisan caucus in Congress to study technology devices that could be employed on the southern border.

US Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from McAllen, told Border Report he believes there are emerging technologies that can help law enforcement personnel to better patrol and monitor the southern border with Mexico.

Last month, Gonzalez formed the Border Security Technology Caucus along with Tony Gonzales, a Republican from West Texas. Other members include Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

Their goal is to “talk about high tech ideas of how to secure our border,” Gonzalez told Border Report recently at his offices in McAllen, Texas.

“I know President Trump talked about building a big wall and I used to tell him all the time that I think we should have a wall with cutting-edge technology with aerostats and cameras and sensors and maybe more boots on the ground. That is real border security it’s not just political rhetoric, ”Gonzalez said.

Cameras and other sensors are seen atop a section of border wall in Hidalgo, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez / Border Report File Photo)

“We have the resources. We have the people. We have the technology and I think we should use the very best technology on our southern border and I think that is what will ultimately bring security to our region, ”Gonzalez said.

Among ideas he wants to discuss are including more Aerostats and drones on the Texas border with Mexico.

A tethered Aerostat is seen Aug. 17, 2020, flying over La Joya, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez / Border Report File Photo)

The United States has for years stationed Aerostat systems on the southern border. These include larger, more permanent Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) and the smaller tethered mobile blimps known as Tactical Aerostat Systems (TAS).

Most of the units were surplus equipment from the Department of Defense and used in Afghanistan. But the operating costs, done by private contractors, proved to be astronomical and have prevented more of the devices from being deployed, several lawmakers have told Border Report.

Gonzalez says now there are Aerostat devices being developed that can be operated via hand-held cellphones and he wants his committee to study these to see if they can be utilized on the border.

“We have the technology to have vision to see what’s happening hundreds of miles from our border, collect data, collect intelligence and be more prepared and have cutting edge technology to ensure that the men and women who are securing our borders have access to the best technology in the world, ”he said.

The Border Security Technology Caucus has not yet held its first meeting but is planning to schedule one soon, Gonzalez said.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at [email protected]

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