Austin American Statesman
May 12, 2010
After years of political pressure from Texas politicians, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said Monday that he expects the federal government to deliver unmanned aircraft to watch over the border with Mexico by this fall.
Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, said he has had discussions with top officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s office of air and marine operations, and they agreed to the timetable, subject to Federal Aviation Administration approval to allow the surveillance planes — often referred to in the political vernacular as “Predator drones” — to fly over Texas.
Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, said the administration is “working as quickly as we can on this.”
Cuellar said the FAA told him that regulators’ main concern has been with Texas’ heavy airplane traffic — both private and commercial.
If approved, the unmanned aircraft in Texas would add to the federal government’s existing border effort, which includes a handful of other unmanned aircraft, 20,000 Border Patrol agents, about 650 miles of border fence and 41 mobile surveillance systems, according to Customs and Border Protection.
This article was posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 10:03 am