This short article seems to resonate with some of the things Prof. Franks discussed in lecture today regarding the increasing porosity of borders in an age of globalization.
From the LA Times:
Drone aircraft will be used to nab illegal immigrants on California-Mexico border
December 7, 2009 | 7:33 am
Predator drones, the unmanned aircraft used by the U.S. military in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, will soon be employed to track illegal immigrants on the Mexico-California border.
The drone, which will be unveiled later today, will be operated out of the Antelope Valley by the military contractor General Atomics. The drones will fly above the border region with advancing electronic tracking equipment looking for illegal immigrants crossing into California.
According to the San Diego-based company, the drones will transmit information to U.S. authorities on human smuggles as well drug smuggling.
Such drones are already used on the border of Texas and Arizona.
Three things to note:
a) if in fact political boundaries are increasingly open to human migration or other demographic shifts, then there is clearly an effort on the part of nation-states to regulate those “flows.”
b) this particular effort uses military-grade hardware operated by a private company. Remember that one of the core tenets of neoliberal globalization (aka Empire) is the diminution of the public sector in favor of private “solutions.”
c. the mission of the drone surveillance includes not only “illegal” immigration– here described as “human trafficking,” which raises the specter of what in the 1910s was called “white slavery” (the traffic in young women, enslaved for nefarious purposes)– but drug interdiction. We could view this pairing of law enforcement mandates as a means of establishing an equivalence between them via reification– i.e. both dope and undocumented workers are a form of contraband.
d) the methods and technologies being used in foreign wars are now trickling into mainstream law enforcement in the US. If you recall the Pittsburgh demonstrations against the G8 earlier this year then you’ll no doubt remember that local police used a sonic weapon called an LRAD first deployed in Iraq. Now predator drones are cruising not only the US-Mex. international border, but between states such as Texas and Arizona. I think we can see this as a provisional confirmation of one of the remarks I made during last Wednesday’s lecture: that Empire disturbs the distinction between inside (domestic) and outside (foreign).