It’s a high-tech solution to the complex problem of illegal immigration. And so far, it doesn’t work

It turns out the smart fence was kind of a dumb idea after all. The virtual border wall, a network of sensors, cameras and radar meant to help the Border Patrol nab illegal crossers, has never worked as planned, and according to the Government Accountability Office, even the tests designed to evaluate it are badly flawed. After ordering a reassessment of the project two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that she would freeze all funding for the 2005 Bush administration initiative until the probe is complete.

Bush believed that technology also could be used to secure the border. Hoping to placate Congress, which scoffed at his proposals on comprehensive immigration reform and seemed solely interested in halting the flow of immigrants, Bush called for a virtual fence that by 2011 was supposed to cover nearly the entire 2,000-mile southern border. Roughly $1 billion later, we have two testing sites in the Arizona desert, where drifting sagebrush and wildlife often set off the sensors. The system is so slow that on the rare occasions it does sense a human border crosser, by the time cameras can focus on the area, the lawbreaker is gone.

It would be great if there were a technological solution to illegal immigration. But it would be extraordinarily hard, not to mention expensive, to develop an effective technology that couldn’t be speedily defeated by clever human smugglers. And even in the unlikely event that a foolproof fence could be built, it wouldn’t address the huge number of immigrants who cross the border legally but then overstay their visas.

SOURCE

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