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Surveillance plays a critical role for Border Patrol

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-08 01:39:24-04

On a Tuesday afternoon in late May, Border Patrol agents on land and in the sky search for a group of three illegal immigrants, in a rural area just a few miles from downtown Nogales.

"These individuals were captured by a camera when they were crossing a hill, when they were cresting the hill," Border Patrol Agent Daniel Hernandez said. "They were spotted by the technology at work."

After about an hour or so, the agents apprehended the group of illegal immigrants. Agent Hernandez explained that agents in the field were able to do this thanks in part, to agents based in headquarters, monitoring more than a hundred feeds from cameras placed strategically around the border.

"There's a lot of areas and a lot of ground to cover. This kind of shortens that gap and makes agents aware of what's around them, what they can and can't see," Hernandez said. "This is kind of the eye in the sky coordinating with the agents on the ground, showing them where to go or what to do."

In the Nogales sector, agents are faced with different landscapes. They patrol the rural areas outside of the city limits as well as the urban areas. People try to cross the border in both spots, which can create tricky situations fo agents, according to Hernandez.

Regardless of how many people are coming over, even if it's a group of two or three, Hernandez says Border Patrol will do whatever it needs to do to apprehend them.

"These people could be dangerous criminals, or they could be people that are hard-working people. We don't know what we don't know, Hernandez said. "So we have to make an apprehension and let the immigration system decide."

When the sun goes down and the only thing lighting up the desert or city is the moon, the cameras play an even more important role in assisting agents out in the field.

"We can see in daytime and nighttime," Hernandez said. "We can actually see through the fence. So we can see things as they're getting ready to come over the fence, whether it's people, drugs, what have you."