Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has put the brakes on the controversial "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The $3 billion dollar plan, called SBInet, was problematic during the Bush administration, and its woes have continued. The fence has been riddled with problems, and a recent critical report by the Department's inspector general sealed its fate. In a statement Tuesday, Napolitano said:
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. The system of sensors and cameras along the Southwest border known as SBInet has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines.
Boeing was managing the project. In response, spokeswoman Jenna McMullin said the company has always recognized the importance of developing the program quickly and affordably for Customs and the Border Patrol.
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“We are fully committed to delivering border security technology that successfully assists them in their mission, and we will continue to support the Department of Homeland Security as they examine the future of securing the nation's borders,” she said.
Napolitano said stimulus money that was supposed to go towards the project would instead be used in other ways to secure the borders:
Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security will redeploy $50 million of Recovery Act funding originally allocated for the SBInet Block 1 to other tested, commercially available security technology along the Southwest border, including mobile surveillance, thermal imaging devices, ultra-light detection, backscatter units, mobile radios, cameras and laptops for pursuit vehicles, and remote video surveillance system enhancements.
The project’s halt comes amid rising violence along the U.S. border with Mexico that has Sen. John McCain urging Americans to heed the recent State Department travel warning to delay visits to the Mexican states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua.