Border Patrol officials show high-tech surveillance
By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 06/12/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

In the near future, the U.S. Border Patrol will deploy more sophisticated high-tech equipment along the border to stem illegal immigration.
At Wednesday's Central Business Association luncheon, Border Patrol officials used a multimedia presentation to show the kinds of technological tools being tested. They include strategically placed towers, mobile surveillance systems, radar and fencing.

The surveillance systems being tested can provide agents with images and locations of undocumented border-crossers in real time.

Lee Stovall, the U.S. Border Patrol's special operations supervisor, said the technology can distinguish between people and animals moving in the desert and can tell how many people are traveling and whether they are armed.

However, "this (system), which is good for rural areas, is not suitable for urban centers like El Paso where there is too much" human movement, Stovall. "In the city, we would rely on fencing and (manpower)."

Victor M. Manjarrez Jr., chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol-El Paso Sector, said, "We don't have these (new high-tech systems) here yet because they are still being tested in Tucson."

Manjarrez said the El Paso sector has increased the number of agents it has available to about 2,500 compared with less than 1,000 only 3Ă‚years ago. "This represents a great economic and positive impact to the community," he said.

El Pasoans Armando Cardoza and Salvador Gomez, who attended the presentation, held up a sign that
read, "Secure the border, build the fence, it's national security."
"We're just here to support the Border Patrol," Cardoza said.

A group of students from New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, doing research on the border also attended.

"The presentation was informative," said Valerie Duran, a senior. "In Northern New Mexico, people are under the impression it's not safe to come to the border, whether it's El Paso or Juárez. I found that not to be the case. I felt safe in both places."

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.