A GAO report has found that CBP’s U.S. Border Patrol has made progress deploying surveillance technology, including cameras, radars and sensors, along the southwest U.S. border.
In October 2017, the agency completed deployment of select technologies to several states along the southwest border, and it has also made progress toward assessing performance of these technologies. However, additional actions are needed to fully implement previous recommendations; for example, the Border Patrol has not yet used available data to determine the contribution of surveillance technologies to border security efforts.
Between 2007 and 2015, CBP spent about $2.3 billion deploying fencing, which supports agents’ ability to respond to illicit cross-border activities by slowing the progress of illegal entrants. In February 2017, GAO reported that CBP was taking a number of steps in sustaining tactical infrastructure — such as fencing, roads, and lighting — along the southwest border. However, CBP has not developed metrics to assess the contributions of border fencing to its mission, as GAO has recommended. CBP concurred with the recommendation and said it plans to develop metrics by January 2019.
GAO acknowledged that the Border Patrol has faced challenges achieving its statutorily-approved minimum staffing level of 21,370 agents. As of last September, the Border Patrol reported that it had about 19,400 agents, and in November GAO reported that Border Patrol officials cited staffing shortages as a challenge for optimal deployment.