Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Will immigration reform mean drones over Southern California?

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One of the unintended consequences of the immigration reform bill now under scrutiny in the U.S. Senate could be drones in the skies over Southern California. But California's senior Senator says, "Not so fast…" 

Tucked away in the nearly 900-page immigration bill is the "Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy." It would allow "unarmed, unmanned aerial systems" — in other words, drones —  to patrol the border. The bill defines that region as stretching 100 miles north from the border.


Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Intelligence Committee, says she's very familiar with a drone's ability to see from great distances with great accuracy. "You don't want them looking in windows of people's homes or in back yards of people's homes," she says. Feinstein says that kind of surveillance could affect "millions of people living within that hundred miles" in Southern California.

She proposed limiting the geographic reach for drones. But Senators from less populated border states convinced her to pull the amendment, pending further discussion.

The Senate Judiciary Committee continues debating amendments to the immigration bill Tuesday. 

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