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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 05:52 GMT
US launches online border patrols
Unfinished section of US-Mexico border fence
The cameras will be trained on known crossing hot spots
A US state has begun testing a website that aims to police illegal immigration by offering web users surveillance footage from the Mexican border.

The site intends to give web users the chance to virtually patrol the Texas border and contact the authorities if they spot seemingly illegal crossings.

Only eight of more than a dozen cameras installed were initially working.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who launched the scheme, asked for "forgiveness" for early technical difficulties.

"I'm sure that as you start a big programme like this that you will have some glitches," Mr Perry told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Perry, a Republican, is running for re-election in mid-term polls next Tuesday.

'Neighbourhood watches'

Reports say footage streamed by the cameras often appeared to be very grainy.

Views in some cases were obscured by foliage, while at other times, it was impossible to tell whether a group of people in sight were illegal immigrants or not.

Rights groups have criticised the scheme, arguing that it would lead to racial profiling and false reporting.

Announcing the programme in June, Mr Perry said the scheme ought not to be seen as controversial.

"I look at this as no different from the neighbourhood watches that we have had for years and years," he said.

He had said the cameras would focus on "hot-spots and common routes" used to enter the US.

The cameras will be trained on stretches of the 1,000-mile (1,600km) border known to be favoured by illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigration is a deeply divisive issue in the United States, and a hot political topic in the mid-term elections.

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