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The US federal agents tasked with patrolling the US-Mexico border have come up with a new shopping list of items they think will enable them to better perform their job. These include better radios, 37 kilometres more of fences, and more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance, according to an unpublished US government study.

Business Insider reports that the fence-extensions sought in Texas and California would be “the first major fencing addition to the nearly 2,000-mile-long [3220 km] southern border in five years.” Analysis based on the costs of previous fences estimates they would cost at least $92 million to install.

Border Control, which is nestled under the umbrella of US Custom and Border Protection (CBP), has not requested additional funding for fences at this stage, but the plans are clearly being considered.

The more interesting parts on the agents’ wish-list are those to do with a so-called “virtual wall” made of UAVs, blimps, and tower mounted surveillance. Currently, the lion’s share of CBP’s $447m budget goes to these means, and the agency has a stock of retired military blimps, unmanned aircraft, and other advanced technologies.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is directly responsible for CBP, has recently acquired “more than 3,900 items of excess equipment from the U.S. Defense Department.” These include Marcbots – tunnel-detecting wheeled robots, and advanced radar systems. These should go a long way to improving Border Control’s abilities.

Watchdog, however, have criticised both DHS and CBP for neglecting Border Control’s stock of basic equipment, such as radios. In response, DHS “pledged to improve its equipment investment policies.”

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