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DHS Terminates Virtual Border Fence Program DHS Terminates Virtual Border Fence Program

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DHS Terminates Virtual Border Fence Program


Border Patrol agent Claudia Chavez-Burt moves a remote-controlled camera near the Rio Grande River at a U.S. Border Patrol headquarters August 7, 2008 in Laredo, Texas. U.S. Border patrol agents in the headquarters constantly monitor the border for illegal crossings, as part of their efforts to stop illegal immigrants, drug traffickers and potential terrorists from crossing illegally into the United States.(Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday officially terminated its long-troubled program to build a virtual fence along the nation’s southern border using surveillance cameras and other technology.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano briefed lawmakers on her decision to kill the so-called SBInet program and put forward a new plan for using technology along the border with Mexico.


The decision is a blow to Boeing, the prime contractor for the program. But the move was not unexpected. Last year, the department halted funding and additional work on the program beyond two test phases in Arizona. About $1 billion in taxpayer funds has been spent on the program to date.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to meet our border-technology needs, and this new strategy is tailored to the unique needs of each border region, providing faster deployment of technology, better coverage, and a more effective balance between cost and capability,” Napolitano said.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., immediately praised Napolitano’s decision.


“The secretary’s decision to terminate SBInet ends a long-troubled program that spent far too much of the taxpayers’ money for the results it delivered,” Lieberman said. “From the start, SBInet’s one-size-fits-all approach was unrealistic. The department’s decision to use technology based on the particular security needs of each segment of the border is a far wiser approach, and I hope it will be more cost effective.”


This article appears in the January 14, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.

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