Border

Feb 13, 2013 8:28 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Ranchers outraged at feds' reluctance to update border security technology

ARIVACA, Ariz. -The feds' reluctance to update border security technology has residents living along the international border outraged.

The Arizona Border Surveillance Technology program was set up to install cameras and underground sensors to detect illegal activity at the border.

In 2005, the Homeland Security Inspector General found that only four percent of the sensors buried underground accurately flagged illegal crossings. 34 percent of the notifications were false alarms while 62 percent were unknown.

While the problems with the border sensors have been known for a while, the plans to update the tracking devices have been scrapped, for now, and that is especially concerning for the ranchers living on the frontlines.

Jim Chilton and his wife Sue are a couple of those ranchers who are worried. They have lived on their Arivaca ranch, which includes about five miles of border, since the late '80s.

The line that divides countries on the Chiltons' property is just a barbed wire and post fence. Jim said that's all too inviting to smugglers and migrants who are looking to avoid the heavily policed areas of the border towns.

"It's as many as four or five miles between one road and another and the Border Patrol really needs sensors and updated equipment," Jim told News 4 Tucson.

They say they are accustomed to activity always going through their ranch, even running into 'spotters' who scout the area for drug smugglers on hilltops.

"They are guiding the drug smugglers through the country undetected in many cases by the Border Patrol and the sensors are not picking up their movement," Sue said.

A spokesman with Customs & Border Protection did not indicate when they will upgrade their technology.

CBP told News 4 Tucson in a statement that: "To address immediate operation needs for replacement [sensors], CBP plans to make an interim procurement of [sensors] similar or compatible to existing systems."

Even so, the Chiltons hope that the feds will take any advantage they can over the smugglers and migrants who cross through their corridor because it is, after all, their home.

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