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backscatter

X-rays scanning cars at U.S.-Mexico border crossing causing all sorts of entirely too predictable controversy

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The epic struggle against illegal immigration continues, as American authorities turn to technology to help them secure the homeland. Specifically, they’ve turned to drive-through X-ray portals to help detect both illegal immigrants and unwanted matériel. Of course, there’s the predictable conflict between privacy rights advocates and government officials. You know, “you’re invading people’s privacy” v. “we’re protecting America.” It’s insufferable.

The X-rays, more accurately called backscatter, scan cars that have already been flagged as being suspicious. The car is driven though a car wash-like tunnel—either by the car’s owner or an agent—named the Z Portal where the backscatter does its job. The idea here is that agents don’t have to physically search a car for potential dangerous people (or weapons and rugs), thus keeping them safe from any shenanigans.

The first Z Portal is located at the San Ysidro border crossing, which is just south of San Diego.

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