Last year, at this time, Customs and Border Protection agents were operating a dozen aerostat blimps – nicknamed “Eyes in the Sky” – in sparsely patrolled areas but the Biden administration has grounded the blimps that provide 24/7 surveillance over the southern border.
According to CBP, the balloons account for nearly half of all suspected targets detected each year. From 2014 to 2020, aerostats detected 58% of all suspected air smuggling flights approaching the border from Mexico.
Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, tells AFN grounding the blimps makes no logical sense because the surveillance was not expensive and it worked.
“I guess the logic seems to be,” he says, “if we don't want the Chinese peering down and seeing what's going on here, that we shouldn't look at what's going on ourselves. It makes absolutely no sense.”
Budget cuts to the program kicked in October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, and a CBP spokesman told Fox News the Border Patrol began reducing the number of blimps on January 1.
Border Patrol agents also told Fox smugglers and the drug cartels will benefit most of fewer “Eyes in the Sky” watching the U.S.-Mexico border.
The balloons also help Border Patrol track and locate “gotaway” illegal aliens who evade capture.
Mehlman says he doesn't buy the argument the administration lacks funding to keep only four of 12 blimps in the air.
“It is costing us upwards of a $150 billion a year to provide services to people who are in the country illegally,” he complains. “For a fraction of that cost, we could be doing a heck of a lot better at preventing people from getting in here in the first place.”