Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed the potential use of robot dogs to patrol the US border, saying it is “shameful” that money is being channeled into “militarisation” instead of healthcare and housing.
The New York Democrat took to social media on Saturday to hit out at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) investment in the technology.
“It’s shameful how both parties fight tooth + nail to defend their ability to pump endless public money into militarization,” she tweeted.
“From tanks in police depts to corrupt military contracts, funding this violence is bipartisan + non-controversial, yet healthcare + housing isn’t. It’s BS.”
In a follow-up tweet, she added: “Immigrant and Latino communities notice this hypocrisy on immigration big time too.”
The “Squad” member shared a tweet from Texas Monthly journalist Jack Herrera, where he wrote that the “DHS and Border Patrol are working together to eventually deploy Ghost Robotic’s “dogs” on the border, in particular desert terrain”.
“Terminator dogs will supposedly act as a “force multiplier” for CBP in patrols and interdiction,” he tweeted.
According to a DHS update on 1 February, the so-called robot dogs are “another step towards deployment at the border”.
The agency said the 100-pound robot dogs are designed to assist US Customs Border and Protection agents in their work patrolling the US border which is “critical to our nation’s security” and to tackling illegal behaviour such as human smuggling and drug smuggling.
They can work in conditions deemed too dangerous for human agents such as areas of low oxygen, extreme temperatures and rugged terrain and can also be used to encounter “volatile individuals or hostile threats”, the agency said.
The dogs are also fitted with videos and sensor packages to relay information back to remote teams.
“The goal of the program is to leverage technology to force-multiply the CBP presence, as well as reduce human exposure to life-threatening hazards,” the agency said.
The technology is being developed by the DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate’s Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles (AGSV) Program together with tech firm Ghost Robotics.
AOC has repeatedly hit out at the treatment of migrants at the southern border as the number of people crossing from Mexico into the US soared to record levels in 2021.
This also isn’t the first time AOC has taken issue with the concept of robot dogs.
In February 2021, the congresswoman blasted the New York Police Department’s use of robotic dogs saying they targeting “low income communities of color”.
The dog-like drones were fitted with lights and cameras to help officers see at crime scenes.
“Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead,” she tweeted at the time.
“Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.”
She added: “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
The NYPD’s $94,000 contract with the technology maker was axed following her comments.