Saturday, January 15, 2011

No More Virtual Border Fence

Reuters reports:
President Barack Obama's administration on Friday canceled the troubled "virtual fence" project meant to better guard stretches of the vast U.S. border with Mexico and will replace it with other security measures.

The project, begun in 2006 and run by Boeing Co (BA.N), has cost about $1 billion and was designed to pull together video cameras, radar, sensors and other technologies to catch illegal immigrants and smugglers trying to cross the porous border.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said commercially available surveillance systems, unmanned aerial drones, thermal imaging and other equipment would be used instead, suggestions made by critics of the Boeing SBInet program.

"This new strategy is tailored to the unique needs of each border region, providing faster deployment of technology, better coverage, and a more effective balance between cost and capability," she said in a statement.

The Obama administration has been under intense pressure to beef up security to stem the flow of illegal immigrants flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border as well as halt the smuggling of drugs and weapons.
Well, that was money well spent. The virtual border was created in part to keep northern Mexico's crime problems out of the US, yet we have thus far spent less than half that total on the Mérida Initiative. As far as stemming immigration, well, I wonder what $1 billion could have done were it sunk into some of the migrant-producing towns in Zacatecas or Michoacán.

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