Janet Napolitano halts funding for virtual border fence
The virtual border fence was supposed to revolutionize US-Mexico border security. But delays and glitches led Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to freeze its funding Wednesday.
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Mr. Bonner thinks that DHS needs to examine the entire premise of using technology at the border.Skip to next paragraph
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“We already detect more traffic of illegals than we can apprehend, so we feel the money is better spent putting more boots on the ground than in looking at more technology," he says. "With more personnel cutbacks planned for next year, doesn’t this underline the need to rethink those?”
“DHS could have been more vigilant in oversight," Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security told NPR Wednesday, "but I can tell you there is no stomach or energy on this committee for this project continuing in its present form.”
Changes at the border
Other experts say that Napolitano’s actions are related to recent incidents at the border.
"Despite evidence of funding constraints at the DHS, Napolitano's actions signal a more deliberate effort by the agency to crack down on illegal immigration at the US-Mexican border in the wake of the shootings that took place in Ciudad Juarez on Saturday, leaving three individuals with ties to the US consulate dead,” says Catherine Wilson, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, who studies immigration.
On Wednesday, the State Department issued an advisory for US citizens traveling in Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, and Matamoros, and has authorized the departure of family members of US government personnel in these areas, she notes.
The main question the public should be asking about a virtual border fence is whether the DHS is fully aware of the long-term performance of the security technologies involved, Dr. Wilson and others say.
“Will they, in fact, be more cost-effective than those technologies used in the past?" she asks. "Is this a good use of Recovery Act funding?"