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'Virtual Fence' Along U.S.-Mexico Border Halted as Napolitano Shifts Funding

5 years ago
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The building of a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border has come to a virtual halt -- by order of the Obama administration.

The Department of Homeland Security, citing delays and cost overruns for the project, has decided to shift $50 million in economic stimulus funds set aside for the "fence," to other purposes related to border security.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she would freeze work on the five-year plan to mount sensors and other surveillance gear along stretches of the 2,000-mile border. Two pilot projects in Arizona will apparently remain in place and actual fencing along several hundred miles of border will also stay.

"Not only do we have an obligation to secure our borders, we have a responsibility to do so in the most cost-effective way possible," Napolitano said in a statement. "The system of sensors and cameras along the Southwest border . . . has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines."

The freed-up money, she said, will go to other "tested, commercially available security technology," including mobile surveillance equipment, thermal imaging devices, ulta-light detection, cameras and laptops for chase vehicles.

Congress ordered construction of the fence during the Bush administration in reaction to a flood of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers coming into the U.S. via the Rio Grande and at other entry points.

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