Elections

Trump Wants Drones To Patrol Borders

Ron Brynaert Freelance Reporter

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told an upstate New York newspaper that he wants unmanned and unarmed drones to help patrol U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico night and day.

“They would work in conjunction with the Border Patrol, who are fantastic people who want to do their job,” Trump told Syracuse.com over the phone before his visit to Syracuse on Saturday. “I want surveillance for our borders, and the drone has great capabilities for surveillance.”

But, in January of 2015, an Inspector General audit claimed that drones were inefficient, barely did anything to stop illegal border crossers, and were too costly.

“The unmanned aircraft are not meeting flight hour goals,” the audit claimed, saying that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency “cannot demonstrate how much the program has improved border security,” the Washington Post reported.

The report showed that less than two percent of border crossers were captured in Arizona by using drones and only one-tenth of one percent in Texas.

Customs and Border Protection assistant commissioner Eugene Schied disagreed with the audit and argued that drones “directly contributed” to law enforcement seizures of marijuana in 2013, citing $122 million and 50,000 pounds as figures. However, 875,000 pounds were seized in Texas in 2014, so that’s only a fraction.

In the interview Trump never mentioned how much such an effort would probably cost.

At an estimated $12,255 per flight hour to operate the drones, it would cost $107,353,800 to operate a drone for 24 hours, for a full year, based on 2013 figures. Ten drones patrolling each border would cost $2,147,076,000.