Homeland Security using music to protect the border

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX - Can authorities protect the border with music?

Such a program does exist, but 3 On Your Side explains why the program has some people scratching their heads.

The Department of Homeland Security has launched a marketing campaign targeting a more mainstream audience.

While some say the approach is working, others claim it's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

In what may be one of the lesser known deterrents in battle against illegal immigration, the border patrol is adding music to its arsenal of weapons.

The CD is called "Migra Corridos" or " People in the Desert".

It's known as ranchero music, up-tempo, Mexican folk songs that have been around for centuries, but the message in this music is anything but traditional.

Lyrics in the five-track disc detail tragic border crossings to keep would-be illegal immigrants from trying to cross the border.

DHS hired a Washington-based advertising company to write record and market the CD's.

They've been distributed to radio stations in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic for the past two years.

"In my opinion, it's useless, it's not going to work," Oscar Feliz said.

Felix is a Spanish radio station owner in Nogales.

"If the U.S. is still spending money on this, this is not the way to stop the problem," he said. "I definitely think it's a horrible waste of taxpayer money."

Exactly how much money does it cost?

The border patrol wouldn't provide 3 On Your Side with the exact dollar amount spent on the CD's production, so we showed the CD to a Spanish broadcaster to get his take.

"There is a lot of hours on the studio time I can tell and also this is nice, so they spent a lot of money on it, I can tell," Felix said.

The border patrol did tell 3TV the CD is funded by a $3.8 million Border Safety Initiative aimed at reducing injuries and preventing deaths along the U.S. border.

The initiative pays for the agency's "No More Crosses on the Border" campaign.

The campaign focuses on television and radio advertisements warning immigrants about the dangers of crossing the desert.

The CD is the next leg of those efforts.

3 On Your Side spoke with Michael Reilly, a spokesperson with DHS in Washington D.C., who said the program is working.

"The Border Safety Initiative is a good program because it saves people's lives," Reilly said.

Laura Ilardo with the organization No More Deaths disagrees.

She believes the CD does nothing more than throw money at illegal immigration without understanding why it's a problem in the first place.

"The thing that's going to keep people from crossing is to make it so that they don't have to leave their own country, that they're not forced out," Ilardo said.

The border patrol claims there's been a decline in deaths since the campaign began four years ago, but there's no real way of tracking whether the CD's had anything to do with the drop.

While exact details haven't been released, about a billion dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go to patrolling the border.

That's money taxpayers hope doesn't send government spending spinning out of control.

A similar CD is expected to be completed next month.