Guarding the borders

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The following technology is used at the U.S./Mexican border to inspect vehicles and process visitors.

* Radiation isotope identification device: Handheld tool used to scan vehicles for materials that emit radiation.

* Radiation-detection pagers: Worn by border agents to pick up radiation emissions.

* Cargo truck X-rays: Giant machines that take X-ray pictures of vehicles.

* Fiber-optic scopes: Allow border agents to peer into gas tanks.

* Vehicle and cargo inspection systems: Bombard vehicles with gamma rays that take a "picture" of what is inside a vehicle.

* Interagency Border Inspection System: A master database of law enforcement files on criminals and suspects shared by law enforcement agencies.

* Fingerprint biometrics: Fingerprint images embedded in visa cards and passports for comparison with an individual's prints.

* U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology: New system under development that will use biometric tools and database information to track when foreign visitors enter and leave the United States.


Otay Mesa Port of Entry

Here is a breakdown of the types of traffic crossing the border checkpoint at Otay Mesa, Calif., near San Diego.

Conveyance arrivals Fiscal 2002

Trucks* 725,710

Buses 69,847

Passenger vehicles 3,868,417

Trains 228

Rail containers 3,629

Private aircraft 3,244

Person arrivals

Via truck* 725,710

Via bus 584,896

Via passenger vehicle 8,210,513

On foot (pedestrians) 1,830,903

Via trains 456

Via private aircraft 11,819


All conveyances 4,671,075

All people 11,364,297

* Trucks were also crossing at the San Ysidro port in 1999.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection


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