The use of a sophisticated radar system originally developed by the Pentagon to track the Taliban in Afghanistan has revealed more illegal aliens are able to circumvent the Border Patrol than previously thought. The radar system, called the Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar (Vader), was deployed to Arizona in March 2012 and is now used three to four days a week, for eight to 12 hours a day tracking movement along the border. (Los Angeles Times, Apr. 3, 2013)

Although the radar system has helped the Border Patrol catch illegal aliens, internal reports also reveal that Border Patrol agents apprehended fewer than half of those illegally crossing the border into southern Arizona. (Id.) Using the radar, which is operated from a Predator drone, Border Patrol agents caught 1,874 people in a 150-square-mile stretch of the Sonora Desert between October 1, 2012 and January 17, 2013. (Id.) However, the Vader system also identified an additional 1,962 people in the same area who evaded arrest, which the Border Patrol calls “gotaways.” (Id.)

The findings debunk the Obama Administration’s repeated claims that the border is secure. In January, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that the Border Patrol detained 64% of those who illegally crossed into the Tucson sector in 2011. (Id.)

Not surprisingly, Administration officials downplayed the Vader report’s findings. Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the Vader was only in a “preliminary testing phase.” (Los Angeles Times, Apr. 3, 2013) He also charged that the calculation method was flawed because it did not include people who were detained after the radar left the area. (Id.) “There is no silver bullet in border technology,” Friel said. (Id.)

In contrast, an unnamed former law enforcement official praised the system as “a match made in heaven for border security.” (Id.) The source credited the radar with helping Border Patrol agents observe migrants and smugglers gathering on the Mexico side of the border before they attempt to cross illegally into the United States. (Id.)

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) echoed that sentiment. “That is the kind of technology we would like to see all across the border,” McCaul, said in a telephone interview. (Id.) Chairman McCaul said he was briefed on the Vader system during a February trip to the border in Arizona. (Id.) McCaul announced that he is drafting a bill that would require DHS to establish an accurate measure of border security effectiveness. (Id.) “You can’t measure what you can’t see,” he said. “There is an awful lot we’re not seeing.” (Id.)

Despite Mr. Friel’s comments, the tests were successful enough that the Border Patrol has asked Congress to appropriate funds for the purchase of two additional Vader systems. (Id.) Each system costs approximately $5 million per year to operate and maintain. (Id.)