Romney's border-fence pipe-dream
Mitt Romney wants a border fence. But he doesn’t just want to finish the physical fence that’s already there in bits and pieces. He wants a high-tech fence: you remember, the one that was tried, wasted a billion dollars, and didn’t work.
“As I have said many times, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to secure the borders,” Romney said to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials on Thursday. “That means both preventing illegal border crossings and making it harder to illegally overstay a visa. We should field enough border patrol agents, complete a high-tech fence, and implement an improved exit verification system.”
What he’s really talking about are two high-tech border fence plans, one which utterly failed — SBInet — and its successor, which is merely problem-prone. SBInet, which aimed to blanket the border with an integrated network of fixed sensor towers spread across hundreds of miles, should have allowed Border Patrol agents to track crossings from anywhere. But unanticipated delays and problems with using fixed towers in remote and hilly terrain caused the sensors to break down in the weather or be rendered useless by interference.
The mere 53 miles of SBInet built in Arizona also came at a price tag of $1 billion. That left 334 miles uncovered in Arizona alone out of a nearly 2,000-mile border, which meant the costs for a complete (and impractical) high-tech fence could have been astronomical.
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