Arizona 'Virtual Fence' Gets Final OK

Ad Feedback  - A 28-mile "virtual fence" that uses radar technology and surveillance cameras to catch people illegally entering the country has been approved by the government

The fence was designed and built by the Boeing Company.

The Bush administration plans to extend the virtual fence to other areas of the Texas and Arizona borders. These projects could get under way as early as this summer, officials said.

The system is intended to stop illegal immigrants on foot as well as drug smugglers. So far, 295 miles of fencing has already been built.

Fence is Already Working

On Feb. 13, a border patrol officer in the Tucson command center, some 70 miles from the border, noticed a group of about 100 people gathered at the border.

The officer relayed the information to agents in the area on the ground and in the air. The patrol caught 38 of the 100 people who tried to cross illegally, while the others went back into Mexico, a Homeland Security official said.

Unmanned surveillance towers, which are 98 feet tall, are a part of the fence system. They are equipped with sophisticated technology capable of distinguishing people from cattle at a distance of ten miles.

Cameras trained on subjects are powerful enough to let border patrol officers know group sizes. It also lets officers see whether people are carrying backpacks that may contain weapons or drugs.

Boeing also was late in delivering the final product, known as Project 28. Because of this, the department received a $2 million credit from the company to go toward maintenance and logistical support of the system, Homeland Security officials said.

The government paid Boeing $15 million of its initial $20 million contract before determining that there were glitches in the test project. The department gave a conditional acceptance in December.

Source:  Associated Press

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