SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (KTSM) – The Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector currently has 15 autonomous surveillance towers along the border to spot migrants who are attempting to cross illegally. The idea is apprehend them and even rescue them from sometimes dangerous and harsh desert conditions.

Border Patrol spokesperson Orlando Marrero says the surveillance towers have been operational for two years and a nine more are in the works by the end of the year.

“Right now the AST equipment is in Fort Hancock, Texas; Deming, New Mexico; Lordsburg, New Mexico; and here in Santa Teresa where we are currently at,” Marrero said.

According to the Border Patrol, the El Paso Sector covers 264 miles of border, including three distinct environments where agents encounter migrants — rural, remote and urban.

“This being completely autonomous and completely automatic, scanning 24-7. We don’t need an agent staying in this area. We can have the user, an operator at a command center receiving this information and providing the image and the geographical coordinates to our agents that we can increase the percent or the success rate of that encounter with the migrants,” Marrero said.

Although the Border Patrol can’t share exactly how far a tower can detect illegal activity, Marrero says the towers use infra-red light and night vision technology.

“The Border Patrol agents in the El Paso Sector are resilient and are ready to face and overcome any challenges that they may face in order to get the mission accomplished of safe guarding our borders,” Marrero said.

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