The federal government kicked off a new enforcement initiative yesterday that will make use of more airborne vehicles – both manned and unmanned – to protect the U.S.-Mexico border in the Southwest.

Dubbed the Arizona Border Control Initiative, or ABC, the new effort hopes to achieve “an even safer and more secure Southwest border,” according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson announced the new project in a ceremony in Tucson, Ariz., attended by elected officials and a delegation from the government of Mexico.

“This landmark program supports the priority mission of Homeland Security agencies to detect and deter terrorist activities and cross-border illegal trafficking of people and drugs,” the statement indicated.

Hutchinson mentioned the effort brings together several federal agencies, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol, along with “dozens of local law enforcement agencies.”

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will be used to increase border surveillance. Additional helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft also will be deployed.

“We believe the use of UAVs and increased aviation operations will greatly enhance the capabilities of the more than 200 additionally deployed Border Patrol agents bringing the Tucson Sector to more than 2,000 strong,” said Hutchinson. “Increasing the capacity of our detention and removal facilities along with a focused effort with the government of Mexico to use every available tool to break the cycle of death to migrants in these dangerous terrains where smugglers value profits more than human life will be used.”

The ABC Initiative has a price tag in excess of $10 million for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2004.

UAVs have already been used by a citizen border-patrol group for surveillance. As WorldNetDaily reported, the organization American Border Patrol first tested a UAV on the border in April. At that time, lawmakers were pushing for government use of unmanned vehicles.

“High tech, including drones, is precisely where we should be going,” said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

While the feds’ drones will be used to help deter terrorists from entering the United States via Arizona, Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reported in May that the U.S. military was selling older-model UAVs, and that terrorists hope to use the mini-planes in attacks.

Middle East terrorists, the intelligence service reported, have experimented with the inexpensive equipment and are attempting to equip them with bombs and surveillance equipment for use against Israeli targets.

Related stories:

Eye in the sky targets illegals

Model planes a terror threat?

Related column:

How to patrol our borders


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