FAA Grounds Drones at Texas Border Bridge Migrant Camp

Thousand of migrants detained under a bridge in Del Rio. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector)
Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector

DEL RIO, Texas — Citing “special security reasons,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) forbidding any drone flights over and around the Del Rio International Bridge. The ruling prohibits news coverage of the area where more than 11,000 mostly Haitian migrants are being held in a makeshift camp under the bridge.

The NOTAM is in effect until September 30 and prevents any drone flights 1,000 feet or fewer from the area. The notice warns operators of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) may face consequences for violating the order. The FAA warns operators who do not comply with applicable airspace restrictions that the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security may take security actions which could result in the interference, disruption, seizure, damaging, or destruction of the unmanned aircraft.

The FAA issued a statement regarding the UAS flight restriction:

The Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights on the border. As with any temporary flight restriction, media is able to call the FAA to make requests to operate in the area.

The mostly Haitian migrant population at the camp grows at a pace of 800-1,200 per eight-hour shift. Local community leaders and law enforcement officials have expressed concerns about health and safety conditions at the camp due to poor sanitation and a lack of sufficient law enforcement personnel.

The groups consist of single adults and families with small children. The Border Patrol is overwhelmed in the area as community resources cannot deal with the sudden major influx.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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