New technologies developed to deal with growing illegal migration

to severe droughts in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, which caused massive crop failures.

Companies specializing in border solutions are developing new technologies to help border agents track and identify illegal migrants and contrabands. The Democratic Republic of Congo uses American Science and Engineering’s “Z Backscatter Van” (ZBV), a cargo and vehicle screening system, to detect tropical wood that is illegally logged and smuggled out of the country. The X-ray-based technology is the top-selling cargo and vehicle screening system in the world, capable of detecting drugs, explosives, and other organic threats. At the ninth annual Border Security Expo in Phoenix this past April, more than 100 vendors displayed their latest border security solutions to representatives of both U.S. and foreign border agencies. Engineering company Gans & Pugh Associates displayed surveillance cameras designed to look like rocks. “(A) log, all kinds of things. You name it. We basically need a sample or a picture … and you tell us what you want to put in it,” said the company’s vendor.

These innovations help add to what some consider the most massive border enforcement apparatus in U.S. history. The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents have increased from 3,500 in the early 1990s to more than 18,000 today. The state of Texas claims to have spent nearly $700 million on border security operations since 2012, and Governor Greg Abbott wants Congress to reimburse the state for its border security-related expenses.

“Texas is willing to shoulder the responsibility; we expect the federal government to foot the bill,” he said.

Abbott recently signed the $310 million House Bill 11, part of an $800 million border security package, to bolster the ranks of state police, increase technology, and establish intelligence operations unit on the Texas-Mexico border.

Just a few days after the signing of House Bill 11, Paul Mackler, President & CEO of Eagle Eye Expositions, producers of Border Security Expo, announced that the annual event would move to San Antonio, Texas for the 2016 exhibition. “Given the confluence of federal and state events over the past year on the southwest border, including the newly formed Joint Task Force West, Southern Border Approaches Campaign, headed up by Director Robert Harris, being headquartered in San Antonio, and the sweeping $800 million border security legislation signed into law by Texas Gov. Abbott, a change of venue to Texas in 2016 is in order to continue to best serve the needs of the border security community.”