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Congress' border patrol drones request: Is it worth the money?

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Congress' border patrol drone request is only the beginning of the modernization of U.S. Customs and Border Protection efforts to safeguard the security on the border with the addition of more unmanned drones. As reported by NBC News via a July 14 Newsmax report, the Obama administration seeks $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the surge of unaccompanied minor children coming illegally into the United States.

Since 2010, when Congress debated the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, Congress has pushed for more use of drones to carry out surveillance flights over the border.

Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, an outspoken Democratic critic of President Obama's response to the influx of thousands of minors from Central America crossing the southern border, spoke about "angry" calls he received from the White House and called for President Obama to visit the border, The Christian Post wrote.

"I'm not asking for anything else, come down to the border and just see it for yourself," Cuellar said.

Although Obama made a trip to Texas last week and met Gov. Rick Perry, he refused to visit the border. Cuellar asked..."If it's not important, then why is he asking us for $3.7 billion of help? He continued, "and I want to be supportive of the president on that funding."

The request from Congressional leaders indicate that the funds will be used to expand resources in centers where minors stop as well as increased security efforts in Mexico and Central America.

The funds include $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million to Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department of Justice, $300 million to the State Department and $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Border Patrol wants the money and it wants the drones," expressed Gregory McNeal, a law professor and drone expert at Pepperdine University. "This is the kind of crisis where, if you are Border Patrol, you seize the opportunity to get more funding from Congress."

The White House hopes to get "bipartisan" support for approval but some question whether the drones are worth the money. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) insist that the drones are helpful tools the agency needs to improve situational awareness on the border because Predator drones can stay airborne for up to 20 hours and have surveillance equipment that CBP officials say is crucial to helping them know what’s going on at the border.