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Texas to install webcams along Mexican border in 'neighborhood watch' for illegals

[JURIST] Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] has said that he plans to create a virtual border watch program [press release], installing night-vision cameras along the Mexican border and streaming live video on the Internet to aid in the state's effort to crack down on illegal immigration [JURIST news archive]. The $5 million plan will make the images available to anyone with an Internet connection. Perry hopes that people watching the videos will spot illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border and alert authorities through a hotline that will be established. Dubbing it a new form of the age-old neighborhood watches throughout the country, Perry plans to pay for the camera installation through grant money Texas already has and would like the program to be in effect within one month.

Opponents of the plan, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [advocacy website], fear that the cameras will lead to racial profiling and vigilantism [press release], as well overburden the Border Patrol agency. Opponents also argue that drug smugglers will easily figure out where the cameras are and adjust their route to avoid them because they too would have access to the live video on the Internet. Perry responded, however, that the state could easily move the cameras, which will be placed on the land of voluntary private landowners. As part of a sweeping immigration reform package, President Bush authorized the deployment of National Guard troops along the Mexican border [JURIST report] last month. AP has more. The El Paso Times has local coverage.

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