October 23, 2010
The Houston Chronicle, 10/23/2010
The Obama administration is preparing to scrap plans to extend the high-tech “virtual” border fence along vast stretches of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border, ending a troubled and politically contentious security measure inaugurated in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, the Houston Chronicle learned Friday.
The decision, expected to be announced shortly by the Department of Homeland Security, comes after federal authorities poured nearly $1 billion into a four-year, post-9/11 demonstration project to show that state-of-the-art remote cameras and ground sensors could help U.S. Border Patrol agents intercept undocumented immigrants, drug smugglers or potential terrorists surreptitiously crossing the border.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona keenly familiar with the technical problems afflicting the project, first signaled plans to scrub the “invisible fence” with a series of internal decisions in recent weeks that shifted the year-to-year contract with the prime contractor to a month-to-month contract due to expire on Nov. 21.
October 22, 2010
Los Angeles Times, 10/22/2010
The Department of Homeland Security, positioning itself to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.- Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar project involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors.
The result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border.
The virtual fence was intended to link advanced monitoring technologies to command centers for Border Patrol to identify and thwart human trafficking and drug smuggling. But from the beginning, the program has been plagued by missed deadlines and the limitations of existing electronics in rugged, unpredictable wilderness where high winds and a tumbleweed can be enough to trigger an alarm.
March 16, 2010
Washington Post, 3/16/2010
The Obama administration will halt new work on a “virtual fence” on the U.S.-Mexican border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday, diverting $50 million in planned economic stimulus funds for the project to other purposes.
Napolitano said the freeze on work beyond two pilot projects in Arizona was pending a broader reassessment. But the move signals a likely death knell for a troubled five-year plan to drape a chain of tower-mounted sensors and other surveillance gear across most of the 2,000-mile southern border.