Tucson Citizen
April 23, 2008

Border security group plays eye-spy

Volunteers able to scope out illegal immigrants on Net

Tucson Citizen

A border security group has created a Web site that will let immigration hawks patrol the border over the Internet.
The American Border Patrol's Virtual Vigilance program will let people take control over a high-tech camera mounted on a 46-foot pole and watch people crossing into the U.S.
The idea is to help be the eyes for Customs and Border Protection officers.
Five cameras will be set up at the American Border Patrol's ranch near Naco and will provide coverage of about 20 miles. The group wants volunteers to work half-hour shifts.
Glenn Spencer, American Border Patrol's president, stood in front of a projection Tuesday at the Marriott University Park and pointed to an image of a wall federal officials say 300 illegal entrants go over every day.
"Americans can sit in their homes and they can watch that wall," he said.
Two of the group's cameras are thermal and can see five miles into the dark. They cost $85,000 apiece, Spencer said.
Spencer also gloats that The Boeing Co. can't get its $20 million "virtual fence" up and running, while his folks developed the hardware and software for their project at a cost of $100,000.
"We could do more (than Boeing) for one tenth, one-twentieth the cost," he said.
Robert Parker, a retired Coast Guard captain from Canyon Lakes, Texas, has been using the new system for the past week.
"It's easy to use if you know what you are looking for," Parker said.
He's frustrated that the federal government hasn't built the border fence, and he considers stopping illegal immigration to be of paramount importance.
Having the power to do that at his home is more convenient than patrolling the border himself.
"If there were more cameras like that along the border, it wouldn't be near as bad as sitting out there," Parker said.
The cameras are in a fixed spot, but Spencer said he's not afraid of them being shot out or otherwise wrecked by illegal immigrants.
"There's an unwritten rule they have," Spencer said. "Don't attack Americans. Don't vandalize their equipment, or you'll ruin it for everyone."