Tags: us | virtual | fence

Officials: Progress Made on Virtual Fence Project

Monday, 30 Nov 2009 03:06 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

PHOENIX -- Government officials overseeing the construction of a "virtual fence" along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border hope to turn over the first segment to the Border Patrol in January, while beginning construction on a second stretch in coming weeks.

Although the government has plans to extend the network of cameras, ground sensors and radars along most of the border, officials said they'll draw on lessons from the first two segments in southern Arizona as they contemplate if and where to build more sections and how fast to complete them.

The government estimated it would cost $6.7 billion to cover most of the Mexican border by 2014.

Special: Get Sarah Palin’s New Book – Incredible FREE Offer -- Click Here Now.

"We do want some time to look at whether or not that really does make the most sense," said Mark Borkowski, the government's director of the virtual fence project. "Is it really sensible to spend all that money? Or are there other more measured approaches? Maybe there are some places along the border that make sense, but maybe not the entire border."

As it now stands, once both southern Arizona sections are in operation along 53 miles of the border, the next step would be to authorize construction through the majority of the 375-mile border in Arizona, the nation's busiest gateway for immigrant smuggling and a major thoroughfare for marijuana smuggling.

By using cameras, ground sensors and radars mounted on a series of towers, the system allows a small number of dispatchers to track illegal border-crossers on a computer monitor. They'll be able to zoom in with cameras to see whether it's a person or animal moving, and decide whether the movement requires sending Border Patrol agents to the scene.

The virtual fence, developed as part of then-President George W. Bush's border security plan, is designed to add another layer of protection at the border, along with thousands of Border Patrol agents and 650 miles of real fences.

The government and the contractor building the virtual fence said they were making solid progress after a series of setbacks earlier in the project.

While a prototype virtual fence in southern Arizona has been in use for nearly two years, the first permanent 23-mile stretch along the Mexican border near Sasabe, Ariz., would be handed over to the Border Patrol in January for testing, if everything goes as planned. The government hopes to begin construction on a second 30-mile section south of Ajo, Ariz., once environmental clearances are finalized.

The project was criticized because of delays and the government's finding in 2008 that the 28-mile prototype fence didn't work properly. That prompted the government to withhold some payments to its contractor, Boeing Co. The prototype will be replaced by the first permanent segment.

As virtual fence construction continues, the Border Patrol continues to use older technology that has limitations.

Borkowski, who took over as the project's top leader months after the prototype came under criticism, said it would be easy to blame Boeing for the project's early failures, but much of the fault rests with the government.

The government left it up to Boeing to figure out what the government needed, and the Border Patrol _ the end user _ wasn't asked to be very involved at the beginning, Borkowski said.

"Unfortunately, what we communicated was, 'We are going to put up a system, everybody is going to love it and when we turn it on, it will work right out of the box and the Border Patrol will be delighted.' And that's not what happened," Borkowski said.

Borkowski said he wasn't entirely satisfied with Boeing's work on the project, but that the company has shown improvements in recent months.

Tim Peters, a vice president for Boeing, said large, complex project experience fits and starts and that his company has made good progress in figuring how to tie together the project's off-the-shelf components.

"It's like sitting down at Christmas, and your kid or your nephew just got a box of Lincoln Logs, Legos and Tinker toys and now you have to figure out how to put those pieces together," Peters said. "And Legos don't necessarily play well with Tinker Toys, and Tinker Toys certainly don't play well with Lincoln Logs."

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors tougher immigration enforcement, said he wasn't confident that the virtual fence will end up being built along the whole length of the border and that the delays on the project show that the government wasn't serious about securing the border.

"The confidence will come when they actually have something out there that actually works and helps stop people from coming across the border," Mehlman said.

___

On the Net:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Boeing Co.:

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Cops Find Car Linked to Obama Death Threat

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 16:17 PM

A car sought in connection with a suspected death threat against President Barack Obama has been located in Connecticut . . .

Rams Cut Sam, 1st Openly Gay Player Drafted

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 16:47 PM

The St. Louis Rams have cut Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.The 7th-round draft pick has . . .

Netanyahu: Islamic Extremist Threat All Around Israel

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 15:45 PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said threats from the Islamic State and al-Qaida as well as Hezbollah and Iran . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved