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>Virtual fence plans to be scrapped

10/24/2010

>c/o North Carolina Observer

WASHINGTON The Obama administration is preparing to scrap Bush-era plans to gradually extend a high-tech “virtual” border fence along vast stretches of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border, ending a troubled 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 post-9/11, 53-mile demonstration project to evaluate whether a network of 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 into the United States.

The Obama administration decision would end the original Bush administration plan to extend the virtual fence along most of the U.S.-Mexico border by 2017 at an estimated cost of $8 billion.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona familiar with the problems afflicting the project, signaled plans to kill any extension of 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 that is due to expire on Nov. 21. HOUSTON CHRONICLE

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