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Unmanned US-Mexico border checkpoint's construction underway

The unmanned checkpoint at Big Bend in southwest Texas is meant to boost tourism and trade with Mexico, and will have agents remotely scanning passports and other documents via cameras.

By Staff writer / October 26, 2011



Beefing up the US-Mexico border has been the ethos of the day in Washington.

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But The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story this week about construction of an unmanned border checkpoint at Big Bend in southwest Texas.

At the new checkpoint, in the national park of Big Bend, agents who are stationed miles away will remotely scan passports and travel documents. The checkpoint is apparently the first of its kind on the US-Mexico border (similar checkpoints already operate at the US-Canada border).

The new project comes as presidential hopefuls are calling for more border enforcements, including Herman Cain who just said the US should build an electric fence (he later said this was a joke). But tougher patrolling is definitely a popular campaign promise.

And judging from the commentary on the WSJ’s website, the move at Big Bend is likely to rile many. “Why don't the Feds just paint big signs 'This Way to the U.S.' for the coyotes and their customers to follow? That's what will happen here, anyway," one person wrote in a comment typical of the article's responses.

The unmanned checkpoint is intended to help tourism and trade, the article reports, since now visitors must travel some 100 miles to go through a legal checkpoint (a rule enforced after 9/11). Now, a trip to Mexico will take just a few minutes.

Many will talk about an unmanned checkpoint as a potential passing ground for coyotes and the undocumented immigrants they shepherd across the border, drugs, and drug henchmen. But at least one WSJ reader, who presumably supports border enforcement, brought up a very good point:

“… if you really think about it, unmanned as this station is, at least it has cameras that record everyone coming and going. The same cannot be said of the rest of the border. That's how crazy it's gotten. An unmanned 'checkpoint' actually looks good.”

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