Last Thoughts

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).

2 thoughts on “Last Thoughts

  1. C.G.B. Spender

    Feds eye unmanned drones for ocean smuggler patrol

    The Associated Press

    Published: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 8:30 a.m.
    Last Modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 8:30 a.m.

    SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday took delivery of its first Predator aircraft drone to scan U.S. waters for smugglers.

    The Predator B is expected to begin testing in early 2010 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida and be used in the Caribbean to combat drug trafficking.

    The plane has an enhanced radar system compared to the Predator B that has been used to combat drug smuggling and movement of illegal immigrants on land borders for four years. CBP operates three drones from Libby Army Airfield in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and two from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

    Another Predator B for maritime use is expected at Cape Canaveral in January, said CBP spokesman Juan Munoz-Torres. The agency plans to eventually have 12 drones for land patrols and six for maritime patrols.

    The planes can be disassembled and flown in C-130 cargo planes to other locations but it is unlikely that the first plane will be used in San Diego, Munoz-Torres said. The Southern California seas has been the site of a surge in illegal immigrant smuggling from Mexico.

    The plane delivered Monday was made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles, for $13.5 million. Future deliveries are expected to cost $11 million to $12 million.

    All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

    1. apciv Post author

      I heard the new drones come with a mannequin that looks like Slim Pickens straddling them. Freaks out the dopers.

Comments are closed.