DHS on brink of scrapping â€˜virtual fence’?
WASHINGTON—On Oct. 22, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano suggested that SBInet, the “virtual fence” that used integrated technology to protect the U.S. border, may not be worth the investment after all. "We know that we cannot continue to put out millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer's money if we're not confident that it's really not going to work," Napolitano said, in an ABC News report.
The fence, which was intended to monitor most of the 2,000-mile border, has only been installed across 53 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border at a cost of at least $15 million a mile, reported the Associated Press.
DHS declined to officially say what Napolitano has decided about the future of this project, but there are several indications that SBInet is near its end. For example, the secretary froze money for the expansion of the project in January and Homeland officials could have invoked a one-year extension of the Boeing contract, but opted instead last month to extend it only through Nov. 17, reported the AP.
In a June hearing, several lawmakers seemed prepared to end the project. A Homeland Security department official said then the agency was very unlikely to continue the project to the rest of the border, which would cost about $8 billion and be completed sometime in 2016 or 2017, reported the AP.
Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said a GAO report released last week showed that SBInet is headed in the wrong direction and looks forward to an effective program with border security measures "that are a sound use of taxpayer dollars."