House subpanel approves border patrol technology

In an effort to enhance border security in lieu of a comprehensive immigration bill, the House Science Technology and Innovation Subcommittee approved a bill aimed at beefing up technological advancements that could help the border patrol.

The bill (H.R.3916) was approved on a voice vote with no disagreement. The bill moves to the full Science and Technology Committee where it is expected to also get favorable treatment.

The bill calls for the border patrol to define its technological needs, whether that is global positioning systems or advanced unmanned surveillance vehicles or whatever they need. It calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to study available technologies and report back to Congress within one year with recommendations.

The bill also calls for pilot projects to determine the efficacy of some of the technologies, including unmanned "drone" aircraft.

"It (the bill) is a necessary predicate to comprehensive immigration reform," Science and Technology Subcommittee Chairman David Wu, D-Ore., said after the markup session. "It will help create a better environment to do immigration reform."

The bill calls for DHS to seek the ability to routinely and safely operate unmanned aerial vehicles on the border without seeking special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as they now have to do. And it calls for research into ground based sensor systems to detect illegal border crossings.

"If we can float them in space, we can hide them in gravel," Wu said of the detection systems.

The committee approved one amendment by Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., that called for a study on global positioning systems. The amendment was approved on voice vote.

Ranking member Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who sponsored the bill, said lack of progress on an overall immigration bill should not deter other efforts.

"While I understand the concerns many members have regarding comprehensive immigration reform, we should not allow that issue to stymie progress deterring terrorists, drug smugglers, and human traffickers."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.