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TribBlog: DHS Says Skies Too Crowded For Drones

Texas’ congested air space is preventing the deployment of unmanned aerial drones to the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

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Texas’ congested air space is preventing the deployment of unmanned aerial drones to the southern border; a problem one U.S. senator said is working in favor of Mexican drug cartels.

“I’m upset that there are none in Texas. We have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “And as I understand it none of those predators are being used by the Border Patrol or Customs and Border Protection in Texas.”

Cornyn’s comments came during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, where he reaffirmed his belief that the carnage in Mexico, specifically Ciudad Juárez, was spilling over into El Paso. It was evidenced, he said, by the 150 victims of violence who have been hospitalized in El Paso.

“There is a war going on, as you know, and I am worried that the Mexican government may not be poised to win that war,” he said.

Cornyn and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have repeatedly argued that unmanned aerial drones would assist the federal government in its efforts to secure the border. They had been greeted with little, if any, response. U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, has said repeatedly, however, that unmanned Predator drones have been conducting training operations along the border for about 10 years.

Tuesday Napolitano explained why none of the five drones currently used are keeping a permanent eye on Texas.

“The plain fact of the matter is that Texas’ air space is more crowded than the other airspace that needs to be protected along the border,” she responded. “The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) now has to go in and carve out space for the Predator but that is under way.”

Despite the explanation, Cornyn said he plans to personally approach FAA officials for an explanation of what “their posture is.”

“It seems like the delay just keeps extending on and on and on, and I would ask for your help to try to expedite this,” he told Napolitano.

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