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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Web users to 'patrol' US border
Unfinished section of US-Mexico border fence
Web users worldwide will be able to watch the Texas border
A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.

The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said the cameras would focus on "hot-spots and common routes" used to enter the US.

US lawmakers have been debating a divisive new immigration bill.

The Senate has approved a law that grants millions of illegal immigrants US citizenship and calls for the creation of a guest-worker programme, while beefing up border security.

But in order to come into effect, the plan must be reconciled with tougher anti-immigration measures backed by the House of Representatives, that insist all illegal immigration should be criminalised.

The issue has polarised politics and US society. Right-wing groups have protested against illegal immigrants, while millions of people marched in support of them last month.

Free number

The Texas governor announced his plans for streaming the border surveillance camera footage over the internet at a meeting of police officials on Thursday.

"A stronger border is what Americans want and it's what our security demands and that is what Texas is going to deliver," Mr Perry said.

The cameras will cost $5m (2.7m) to install and will be trained on sections of the 1,000-mile (1,600km) border known to be favoured by illegal immigrants.

Web users who spot an apparently illegal crossing will be able to alert the authorities by telephoning a number free of charge.

Mr Perry, a Republican, is running for re-election in November.

Deployment dispute

Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has sent National Guard soldiers to his state's border with Mexico, ending a weeks-old dispute with US President George W Bush.

President Bush announced plans on 14 May for thousands of soldiers from the Guard to be sent to bolster security along the Mexican border.

Mr Schwarzenegger had opposed the plan, describing it as a "Band-Aid solution" - or a temporary fix.

He said he did not want to place his state's National Guard soldiers - many of whom would have already served in Iraq - under additional strain.

On Thursday, the governor said he would send the soldiers to the border and the cost of the deployment would be shouldered by the federal government.

Meanwhile, a group of US civilian volunteers that has been patrolling the Mexican border began last week building a fence along a section of the frontier.

The Minutemen group started erecting the fence on privately-owned land in Arizona on Saturday, saying it is "doing the job the federal government will not do".

The Minutemen are allowed to report illegal crossings to border police but have no right to arrest suspects.

Human rights groups have accused the group of xenophobia towards illegal immigrants - but the group denies this.

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