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Obama continues to fight to push through an executive order to shield illegal immigrants from deportation

Cameras placed along Texas’ 1,200-mile border with Mexico have captured the stream of illegal immigrants sneaking into the country on a daily basis. 

The network of more than 1,000 motion detectors, similar to those used to film wildlife, have been placed strategically in areas that have not been secured – where Mexican citizens can cross and evade capture with ease.

They helped border guards apprehend nearly 30,000 suspects and led to 88,400 pounds of drugs being seized in 2014 as part of Operation Drawbridge.

The system has also had a significant impact on Mexican cartels and their ability to smuggle narcotics, people and stolen vehicles between the two countries.

The startling images have been revealed as President Obama continues to fight to push through an executive order to shield illegal immigrants from deportation. 

Earlier this month a federal judge in Texas refused to lift a temporary block on a White House immigration plan.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the ‘sophisticated’ cameras are stationed on ranches and farms on the border. 

The turn on when movement is detected and are monitored in real-time, around-the-clock by a number of agencies.

If they think suspicious activity is taking place, they alert law enforcement in a bid to get them to cut them off.  

Steven McCraw, the director of the agency, said: ‘Every day, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, Border Patrol agents and state law enforcement officers in the Texas border region risk their lives to protect Texas and the entire nation from Mexican cartels and transnational crime.

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‘This innovative use of technology has proven to be a force multiplier in detecting the smuggling attempts along the border, which is critical to interdicting criminal activity occurring between the ports of entry.

‘Any time law enforcement interdicts a smuggling attempt, we consider it a significant gain in the fight against the cartels and their operatives.

‘The collaborative law enforcement efforts of Operation Drawbridge have bolstered our ability to combat the exploitation of our border by these ruthless criminals.’

In March it was revealed more immigrants are choosing more remote and dangerous crossing points to make it to the United States.

The Border Patrol has responded by expanding its search-and-rescue teams to monitor the area, as a growing number of bodies of suspected illegal immigrants are being found. 

Many of the bodies are being discovered just southwest of Mission, Texas, where the fire department’s dive-and-rescue team has had a busy winter. In January and February alone, it recovered at least six bodies in the murky canals. 

In February, governor Greg Abbot claimed that had 20,000 illegal immigrants had already entered the country since the start of the year. 

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Some carry guns as they try to cross the border, but agencies have been able to seize larger numbers of the weapons following the installation of the cameras 

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They helped border guards apprehend nearly 30,000 suspects and have led to 88,400 pounds of drugs being seized in 2014 as part of Operation Drawbridge. These two suspects were detained after they were found carrying 260lbs of marijuana across the border 

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A man is seen here jumping off the back of a truck with 208lbs of marijuana stashed on the back 

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A group of 17 ‘IAs’ were apprehended after this truck was spotted driving along a dirt road across the border 

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A group of suspected illegal immigrants crawl under a fence as they attempt to make their way into Texas 

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Now Boarding: Empty Immigration Flights Cost US Taxpayers Millions


United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wasted tens of millions of dollars deporting illegal immigrants on expensive, but mostly empty, charter flights, according to federal auditors.

ICE has squandered up to $41 million through poor logistical planning for deportation flights, according to a recent review by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office.

A migrant jumps to cross the U.S. Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.

According to an April 9 report titled “ICE Air Transportation of Detainees Could Be More Effective,” the watchdog agency says that ICE, which falls under Homeland Security, spent $12 million on charter flights that were less than 40% full between October 2010 and March 2014.

All told, auditors found that ICE spent about $116 million on flights that were at least 20% under full capacity. Of the nearly 7,500 flights they reviewed, more than one-third were at least that empty.

ICE “may have been able to transport the same number of detainees with fewer missions at a lower charter air cost,” the report states.

Meanwhile, ICE argues that delaying trips in order to fill more seats could actually prove more costly in the end. The average rate for detaining a single adult is $122 per day, while the cost for a family is more than $300 per day, the agency told the Washington Post by email.

Children are carried by rescue workers as migrants arrive via boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo

Additionally, a 2001 Supreme Court ruling limits detention of undocumented immigrants to six months, although some exceptions are allowed.

ICE has access to eight charter aircraft, each of which can hold up to 135 detainees. The agency pays about $8,400 per hour for the flights, regardless of how many passengers are aboard. And while some detainees do fly on commercial flights, most detainees are transported on charter flights.

Auditors also found that ICE “does not capture complete and accurate data essential to support operational decisions and ensure effectiveness.”

According to records, ICE picked up or dropped off more than 23,500 detainees at locations where its charter flights had not flown. In one example, the agency claimed to have transported 54 individuals to Nicaragua, but the flight never stopped in Nicaragua

Auditors also called out six cases in which ICE moved detainees multiple times between the same cities without documenting why the redundant trips were necessary. Some detainees missed flights, but ICE never kept information that explained why.

The inspector general recommended that ICE establish reporting standards and create procedures for measuring performance with detainee flights, among other suggestions.

The agency issued its official response in a statement on Monday:

“While ICE agreed with and was already in the process of making a number of improvements suggested by the report, the agency strongly disagrees with the report’s use of empty seats on flights as a measure of efficiency. Chiefly because delaying the removal of individuals in order to fill empty seats causes the agency to incur ancillary costs that may exceed the cost of the seats.”

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US lawmakers agree to fast-track secretive international trade deals

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Leaders of two key congressional panels have agreed on a deal that would “fast-track” the Obama administration’s ability to draft a pair of controversial international trade bills and move them through Congress.

If passed, the agreement, known as the “trade promotion authority” bill (TPA), would permit President Barack Obama to expedite the process of authorizing trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – currently being drafted by the US and 11 other Pacific nations – and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union.

Under the rules of the TPA, Congress would be able to vote on whether or not to approve either of the deals, but they would not be allowed to offer any amendments that could potentially alter the substance of the agreements.

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Additionally, the TPA would set guidelines for US negotiators currently hammering out details with their international counterparts. For example, it requires that American negotiators work out an understanding on human rights with trade partners, the New York Times reported, which has never been required for international deals before.

It would also require that any final trade agreement be made public about two months before the president signs it into law and up to four months before it comes up for a vote in Congress.

Of the two deals, the TPP has garnered the most press due to the White House’s stated “pivot” to Asia, which involves rebalancing American focus to East and South Asia. However, most of the pact’s details remain secret – itself a cause for concern among skeptics. Supporters of the TPP argue that it will open up markets and opportunities for American goods as well as boost America’s profile in Asia, where a rising China poses multiple challenges.

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President Obama said he was “pleased” with the deal in a statement. He acknowledged that past trade deals “haven’t always lived up to their promise,” but pledged to sign a deal that would benefit ordinary Americans. He also said deals like the TPP are important avenues through which America could maintain its influence on the global economy.

“The bill put forward today would help us write those rules in a way that avoids the mistakes from our past, seizes opportunities for our future, and stays true to our values,” Obama said. “It would level the playing field, give our workers a fair shot, and for the first time, include strong fully enforceable protections for workers’ rights, the environment, and a free and open internet.”

Opponents, however, are worried about a plethora of issues, including the possibility that the TPP would cost Americans jobs and only benefit corporations as well as the already wealthy. There are also concerns that the agreement won’t do enough to establish labor and human rights in countries like Vietnam, that it would make the internet less free around the world, and that environmental protections won’t be strong enough.

READ MORE: Democrats to fight Obama on secret trade deal authorization

On top of these fears, some lawmakers, such as Sen. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), question the extent to which new markets will actually embrace the US. Japan, for example, has resisted eliminating tariffs on American agricultural products and opening its market to the automotive industry, although there have been reports that Tokyo will reduce tariffs on a few hundred products.

Levin called the TPA “a major step back,” while Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), widely expected to take the reins of the Democratic Party in the Senate once Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) leaves office, criticized the quick process by which the terms of the TPA were struck.

“This process is not good,” he told the Huffington Post. “We are supposed to vote on TPA, tie our hands and not vote on amendments, before we’ve seen what the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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Labor unions, environmental and internet advocacy groups have loudly protested the TPP, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) a key lawmaker needed to ensure passage of any expedited deal, tried to assuage fears by saying the bill allows Congress to revoke fast-track authority if the White House fails to meet the criteria it sets out. However, it’s unlikely that such provisions will mollify opponents.

It’s also unlikely that Obama will secure approval from the majority of his party even if and when the TPP is finalized, as many Democrats have come out against it. Republicans have generally voted in favor of such deals, though – and they control both chambers of Congress – so expectations are that a deal could pass in a rare show of bipartisan cooperation.

The TPP is being negotiated among the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.