Torres Small, Stefanik, Slotkin, and Van Taylor Urge Expanded Deployment of Autonomous Surveillance Technology Along U.S. Border

Press Release

Date: Oct. 29, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Immigration

Today, U.S. Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), and Van Taylor (TX-03) led a bipartisan effort calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide a briefing on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) plans to deploy Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST) along the country's southwest, northern, and maritime borders. This follows the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP)'s announcement designating the Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST) system as a Program of Record for the USBP.

The Members also highlighted the cost-effective and efficient manner of AST systems which utilizes solar-powered radar scanning technology to track movement along the border: "As strong supporters of innovative technology to secure our borders, we believe AST is the type of modern technology that fits into a fair and efficient border security strategy based on a mile-by-mile needs analysis of our borders," wrote the Members.

The use of AST reflects Torres Small's vision of border policy that reflects the mile-by-mile needs of its residents and border patrol agents.

The Members continued: "While we applaud CBP for this accomplishment and for quickly transitioning AST from a pilot to a Program of Record, we want to ensure this technology is deployed in all southwest USBP sectors, including in New Mexico and Arizona, to prevent Transnational Criminal Organizations from exploiting potential security gaps between the sectors in which AST systems are currently deployed. Indeed, the landscape in New Mexico and Arizona is ideal for AST, since this technology is especially useful in mountainous areas where wall construction can be impractical or unfeasible, and in remote and rural areas, which according to USBP are "perfectly suited' for AST."