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As California grapples with how much in state funds it should be spending on migrant humanitarian aid at its southern border, the U.S. federal government is pouring money into expanding its already extensive surveillance capabilities there.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to spend about $67.8 million acquiring 277 new surveillance towers and upgrading 191 existing towers along the entire 2,000-mile-long border over the next 14 years, the most recent federal contracts show. The agency has received more than $700 million in funding for surveillance since fiscal year 2017, according to a 2021 report by the Office of Inspector General.

The spending comes as the Biden Administration is facing increased political pressure — from leaders in the Republican and Democratic parties — to take action at the border after illegal crossings soared to record highs last year. Border advocates are urging the state and federal governments to spend more on humanitarian aid, but state officials say they can’t afford to while facing a budget deficit.

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