The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a new program aimed at better tracking and predicting the movement of groups of migrants headed to the southern border.
The new cell, first reported by NBC News, comes after the agency was largely unprepared for a group of 30,000 Haitian migrants who arrived in Texas over the course of September, with as many as 15,000 camping out under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
The program is set to be operational next month, establishing aerial surveillance of truck traffic and migrant camps along the border, monitoring social media chatter, and increasing communication with other intelligence agencies.
“DHS recently developed a new analytic effort that combines law enforcement and intelligence resources to improve our ability to operationally prepare for large numbers of migrants that may arrive along the southwest border,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill.
“This critical initiative – which is led by the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the United States Coast Guard – will strengthen existing efforts,” it added, including countering criminal organizations that smuggle illicit narcotics and migrants across the border.
A senior DHS official told NBC the effort was geared toward helping the department understand where to shift resources and to counter disinformation given to migrants claiming they will be able to remain in the U.S.
But carrying out the plan requires buy-in from a number of countries along migration routes, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras as well as Haiti.
Panama alerted the U.S. in September that another group of Haitian migrants estimated to be as large as 27,000 could seek to reach the U.S. over the next month.