News / Americas

Lawmakers Blast Failure of Planned 'Virtual Fence' Along US-Mexico Border

US Border Patrol vehicle along the US-Mexico border (undated photo)
US Border Patrol vehicle along the US-Mexico border (undated photo)
Robert Raffaele

Lawmakers in Washington say U.S. and Mexican authorities need much more help to battle violent drug traffickers. At a hearing this week, several members of a Senate committee blasted plans for a so-called "virtual fence" as a waste of taxpayer dollars. And two lawmakers are calling for the deployment of  National Guard troops along one of the most troubled sections of the U.S. southern border.  

The recent killing of three people with ties to the U.S. consulate in Juarez, Mexico, and the shooting death of a popular rancher on his property in Arizona, are increasing the anger over drug-related violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The Mexican government says more than 22,000 people have been killed in Mexico since a U.S.-backed crackdown on cartels began three years ago.

Larry Dever is the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, and is leading the investigation into the killing of rancher Rob Krentz.  He says authorities suspect people working for drug cartels.

"The bad guys keep coming," said Larry Dever. "And no matter whether the apprehension rates rise or fall, the numbers of criminal aliens rise.  That sir, gentlemen, is the threat to homeland security in our country."

The increased violence is spilling over into many U.S. border towns, including Nogales, Arizona.

"Gentlemen, Nogales needs your help," said Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel.

Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel told U.S. lawmakers that three ports of entry in his city must process more than 15 million people a year, and inspect some three million incoming cars. But he says federal inspections of all southbound vehicles are impeding the rightful free movement of tens of thousands.

"The unanticipated consequence is that people are now crossing less frequently and have to wait one to two hours coming in and out of our ports of entry," he said.

A source of anger for many lawmakers at the hearing was a U.S. government contract for a so-called "virtual fence" monitoring system along the nearly 3200-kilometer U.S.-Mexico border.
The program, called SBInet has cost more than $700 million so far, but has only been tested over a 37-kilometer section.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has halted worked on the project.  Senator Joe Lieberman is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee:

"By any measure, SBInet has been a failure," said Joe Lieberman. "A classic example of a program that was grossly oversold and has been badly under-delivered."

Senator Roland Burris also blasted the program, and the U.S. government's contract with Boeing for the work, during this exchange with Customs and Border Protection Agency commissioner Alan Bersin.

"Taxpayers do not have unlimited pockets for Boeing, or for any other company," said Roland Burris.

Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona announced a plan to step up border security, including a request for 3,000 National Guard troops along the Arizona-Mexico border.  

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

US, Cuba Talks Resume With Focus on Embassies

Fourth round of talks aimed at overcoming obstacles to opening embassies in each other's capitals and re-establishing diplomatic ties
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More

Chinese Premier Visits South America

Brazil is the first stop on Chinese premier Li’s tour of Latin America
More

2 US Senators Would Require Cuba to Address Claims

Republican Senators Rubio, Vitter say Cuba needs to address up to $8 billion in outstanding claims by US citizens, businesses for properties confiscated by Castros before trade, travel embargoes lifted
More