Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

Border security depends on technology, innovation


Editor’s note: The following Op/Ed was sent to the Merced County Times by Congressman John Duarte, who represents Merced County in Washington. This piece was co-authored by Daniel Garza, president of The Libre Initiative.


When I first decided to run for Congress I did so with the deep desire to help the Central Valley. I knew I brought a unique perspective that was sorely missing in Congress. As a fourth generation farmer and as part of a Portuguese immigrant family, I spent a lot of my time on our family farm located on the Mexican border where I got a first hard view of what good border security should look like and how good policy can help immigrants work and live in the United States. I have a deeply personal connection to the immigration system, and I am committed to solving not just the lack of clear legal pathways but to innovate new solutions that address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. 

John Duarte

The latest data shows a record 2.47 million encounters at our southern border, the most in U.S. history. To process and engage with these encounters, our country only has an estimated 19,400 border patrol agents responsible for securing 6,000 miles of our land border. Quite simply, this means that if every single agent were to be working at once and all patrolling the land border there would still only be three agents per mile of border. This astounding statistic doesn’t just capture how limited our capability is for securing the border but also clearly captures why we need to find new ways that aren’t exclusively dependent on manpower to meet the challenges of our border crisis. 

It is imperative that we invest in and update our border security technology and embrace a holistic border approach that places technology at the core of everything we do. Without it, we leave not only our border agents vulnerable, but also the communities in our country facing the unprecedented migration crisis. 

My new bill, the Integrating New Technologies to Empower Law Enforcement (INTEL) at Our Borders Act goes back to the basics and focuses on what our border agents need in order to do their jobs and keep them safer in the process. The INTEL at our Borders Act would direct the Department of Homeland Security to not only replace the existing outdated technology but develop a comprehensive strategy that assesses gaps in tech, evaluates what is working and what isn’t, and searches for other opportunities for implementation or emerging technologies. The bill would not only reduce costs by evaluating technological effectiveness but also partners with the private sector to create new technologies to help meet border patrol’s needs. 

Daniel Garza,
LIBRE Initiative

Bad actors including cartels and smugglers are constantly innovating and we need to be able to anticipate their strategies rather than just responding to their activity. The implementation of state-of-the-art surveillance systems would provide the necessary tools to monitor and secure our borders more effectively and by extension keep Americans safe. Further, by effectively targeting criminal groups we can address not just the drug and fentanyl crisis that has killed over 100,000 Americans but also address the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our southern border in the form of human trafficking. In embracing innovation, we not only deter bad actors but also ensure the safety of our communities. 

By prioritizing the improvement of technology at our borders and constantly innovating to not just keep up but stay ahead of bad actors we protect families, improve our ability to meet humanitarian needs at the border, and ensure that we solve for one of our countries most pressing issues.