Defense Contractors Turn to Border Control for New Profits

Sunday, June 09, 2013
Lockheed Martin's P-791

Millions of immigrants aren’t the only ones hoping for Congress to approve an immigration reform plan. Military contractors, too, are looking forward to the opportunities that the new law might bring.


While the reform plan currently in the U.S. Senate would provide new chances at citizenship for immigrants, it also would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to do something that’s never been done before—secure every inch of the nearly 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico and stanch the flow of illegal immigrants once and for all.


Since the federal government can’t afford to add thousands of border agents to accomplish such a goal, DHS will turn instead to technology to halt unauthorized crossings.


That’s where companies like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and others come in.


With the Afghanistan war winding down, these defense contractors are looking for new business opportunities in Washington. In the immigration reform bill, they see ways to demonstrate how their hardware could be applied to defending the border.


In fact, half a dozen corporations “are preparing for an unusual desert showdown here this summer, demonstrating their military-grade radar and long-range camera systems in an effort to secure a Homeland Security Department contract worth as much as $1 billion,” according to Eric Lipton of The New York Times.


Northrop Grumman hopes DHS will like its automated tracking device that was first developed to help soldiers detect roadside bombs in Afghanistan.


General Atomics, which builds reconnaissance drones, is hoping to sell more of the aircraft as part of a $443 million contract.


If the legislation as currently drafted becomes law, DHS will have only six months to offer up ways to achieve “effective control” and “persistent surveillance” of the entire 1,969-mile border with Mexico.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

As Wars End, a Rush to Grab Dollars Spent on the Border (by Eric Lipton, New York Times)

15 Companies That Profit From Border Security (by Ted Hesson, ABC News)

Texas Outsourcing Border Security (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Virtual Border Fence May be Dead, but Spending on Surveillance Continues (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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