Virtual Border Fence Turning into a Money-Waster

Saturday, June 19, 2010
(photo: Wayne W. Huang)

Building a reliable “virtual” border fence in the American Southwest is not close to becoming a practical reality. Since 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has spent about $1 billion to deploy and test detection systems along small stretches of the Arizona border with Mexico. But the equipment hasn’t yielded sufficient results, leading the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to question the cost-effectiveness of the Secure Border Initiative program (SBInet).

The effectiveness of the program is so limited that it is now considered to have achieved success if it recognizes only 49% of items crossing the border.
GAO’s Randolph Hite characterized the SBInet as a program moving in the wrong direction that needs to be turned around. But it won’t be easy. “It’s hard to redirect an iceberg once it’s started moving in one direction, and that’s what we’ve been faced with,” Hite told Congress at a recent hearing.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has stopped future funding for the program, leaving its development in doubt.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
'Virtual Fence' Gets a Flogging (by Brady McCombs, Arizona Daily Star)


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