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Government The Almighty Buck United States News Politics Technology

US Scraps Virtual Fence Along Mexican Border 437

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-money's-so-stimulatng dept.
Pickens writes "The Arizona Republic reports that the federal government has officially cancelled its multibillion-dollar plan to build a virtual fence along the border with Mexico as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano disclosed in a congressional briefing that the program known as SBInet was costing too much and achieving too little. 'SBInet cannot meet its original objective of providing a single, integrated border-security technology solution,' says Napolitano. Boeing was hired in 2006 to develop the system under a three-year federal contract with cost projections for full build-out as high as $8 billion but efforts were plagued by delays, glitches, budget increases and congressional criticism. Napolitano has ordered Customs and Border Protection to launch a more modest and geographically tailored effort using SBInet funds and existing technology such as mobile-surveillance systems, unmanned aircraft, thermal-imaging devices and remote-video surveillance with proven elements of SBInet including stationary radar and infrared-sensor towers. SBInet cost nearly $1 billion for development along 53 miles of Arizona border."
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US Scraps Virtual Fence Along Mexican Border

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  • This is what you get for taking ideas from a comedy movie based on a bunch of TV skits.

  • I wonder if, given the rash of cancellations and scalebacks lately, this isn't about the programs so much as it is about Boeing?

    Or is Boeing just that big and pervasive?

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp&Gmail,com> on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:21PM (#34890120) Homepage Journal

      It's not just Boeing. You've got Lockheed-Martin getting these kinds of technology contracts too. They (and Northrop-Grumman) are giant, generalized technology behemoths now, with no real identity. NG owns shipyards too now. I liked them all so much better when they were airplane companies.

    • by PPH (736903) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:09PM (#34890528)

      Boeing is, as their own executives describe themselves, an 'honest broker' of engineering and management services. Aside from a very few core competencies (airframes, etc.) they subcontract or acquire the skills needed to complete a contract. So, they aren't as big as they seem. I mean, where was Boeing's e-fence division prior to this contract?

      A couple of observations:

      • I wouldn't buy a used car from a dealer that had 'honest' in its name.
      • Brokering is a valuable service when there's a poor match between suppliers and customers knowledge. But in this case, DHS probably knows as much, if not more, about securing borders and facilities than Boeing does. So, as with many DoD contracts, the brokering service essentially boils down to Boeing telling the actual contractors,
        <chicago_mob_accent>
        "If you want to do work in my territory, you've got to give me a piece of the action"
        </chicago_mob_accent>.
    • More broadly, this is arguably about the toxic mixture of the revolving door between government and its contractors, along with a certain amount of nigh-religious belief in any wiz-bang tech toy for which a sufficiently stupifying powerpoint and sufficiently invigorating 3D-rendered demo video can be produced.

      "Well, lets see here: we could either hire some more guards and equip them with the sort of modestly-upgraded-versions-of-proven-technology that we know are up to the task of detecting people in a d
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        They don't want to hire more guards, there are no corporate profits in provide more government border agents. Think about 53 miles with with three shifts of guards spaced 100 yards apart, getting paid say $25,000 per year, that billion dollars would pay for 14 years worth of wildly excessive security.

        They would loath that solution, corporate executives wouldn't get their multi million dollar bonuses, lobbyists wouldn't get their multi million dollar fees, politicians wouldn't get the multi million dollar

        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @04:24PM (#34892004)
          They don't want to hire more guards, there are no corporate profits in provide more government border agents. Think about 53 miles with with three shifts of guards spaced 100 yards apart, getting paid say $25,000 per year, that billion dollars would pay for 14 years worth of wildly excessive security.

          I have to question the math on this one. $25,000/year isn't very much considering that these people are going to be dealing with rugged terrain, harsh desert conditions, and facing violent, heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers. It sounds like we're not even factoring in any sort of benefits like health care or retirement. In short, you're offering minimal pay and benefits for dangerous, difficult work. The obvious solution, of course, is that we fill these positions by hiring illegal immigrants.

          • by nanospook (521118)

            ..and facing violent, heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers.

            They will also be facing women, children, teens, people who just want better for themselves and their children.. All these solutions everyone is presenting (snipers, auto sentries, land mines) ignore the fact that these are people like us. You say hello to them as neighbors and when you are out shopping. Have we decided as a society that those who do not fit our ideal should just be "gotten rid" of? Our grandfathers fought a war against those who believed that.

            The real issue is that they come here because

  • Maybe it would be good at counting illegals crossing but it does nothing to stop them.

    When hundreds of thousands (literally) cross every year, we don't need sensors on the border. Just stand there and some are sure to cross your path.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:17PM (#34890092) Journal

      You're right. The e-fence was no fence at all.
          - What we need is some kind of wall to keep out non-citizens. I think the Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago, when they wanted to stop immigrants from the north, so let's go negotiate with them to build it for us.

      • You're right. The e-fence was no fence at all. - What we need is some kind of wall to keep out non-citizens. I think the Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago, when they wanted to stop immigrants from the north, so let's go negotiate with them to build it for us.

        Made a pretty good tourist attraction though. Gotta think ahead!

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:46PM (#34890344) Journal

        Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago

        And, coincidentally, the patent is due to expire later this year!

      • by pipatron (966506)
        We in the west are working hard copying their virtual equivalent at least.
      • What we need is some kind of wall to keep out non-citizens. I think the Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago, when they wanted to stop immigrants from the north, so let's go negotiate with them to build it for us.

        The East Germans have more modern experience. They were mostly successful in keeping those dirty Capitalists out with their wall. Yeah, that's the ticket, the Berlin Wall was built to keep the Mexicans, errr, the West Germans *out*. Yeah.

      • by pnewhook (788591)

        Maybe if you pitched it as a method to keep rednecks and fundamentalist crackpots IN, then the international community would probably think this was an amazing idea and fund the entire thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by redemtionboy (890616)
      The idea is to give border patrol better information as to where to catch them. I of course think there are better things we can do to curb illegal immigration, like helping make Mexico a better place by legalizing many drugs, which would ultimately cut off a significant amount of funds to the mexican drug cartels, but a virtual fence isn't the worst idea ever. We should have secure borders, especially in times where there are people who want to do far more than just work and live here.
      • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:39PM (#34890268) Homepage Journal

        One of the problems with the Mexican drug lords and gangs (they're not really cartels), is that they're heavily armed. Armed by US citizens who (legally) buy guns and (illegally) sell them to Mexicans for a profit.
        I read some statistics showing that almost all illegal guns in Mexico could be traced back to legally bought guns in the US, and we're not talking hunting rifles here.

        My suggestion: Make it a felony to not be able to present any and all legally bought guns within 24 hours of the police requesting it, or to not report a lost gun in a timely manner, or to file a false report. Get the fuckers who arm the drug lords.

        • by Skidborg (1585365)
          So if I'm on vacation two states over and a policeman demands to see my AK-47, what do I do if I left it at home?
          • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:18PM (#34890592) Homepage Journal

            Don't leave it at home?
            Or ensure that whoever you left it in the care of (family member, gun club...) can present it for you?

            If you are unwilling to assume responsibility for a device intended solely to kill human beings, you shouldn't have one.

            • by Thing 1 (178996)

              If you are unwilling to assume responsibility for a device intended solely to kill human beings, you shouldn't have one.

              Hunting.

            • by Z34107 (925136) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @04:19PM (#34891960)

              If you are unwilling to assume responsibility for a device intended solely to kill human beings, you shouldn't have one.

              Damn right. Guns' intended purpose, and therefore only purpose, is violence and murder. Just like torrent clients can only be used for piracy, jailbreaking can only be used for hacking, laser pointers can only be used for blinding people, and cough syrup can only be used for making crystal meth.

              In fact, I shot three blind, meth-addled hipster pirates just on my morning commute yesterday.

              • by Dhalka226 (559740)

                I see what you're trying to do and I frankly agree with every example you gave... except for the guns.

                What, exactly, is the non-violent purpose to guns that I am missing? Best as I can tell, their purpose is violence and murder. Sometimes it's with good intentions; shooting that burglar in the face protects your belongings and your family, but I would be hard pressed not to identify it as violent. Same thing with wars; sometimes they need to be fought, but they are violent in the extreme. Policemen sh

        • If we want to cut off the flow of heavy weaponry to drug lords, we should probably focus on it more as a governance problem than as an opportunity to burnish our own police state.

          As long as the boundary between the local governments(whose security forces we are almost uniformly dumping guns and training on, some 'in-kind' some as 'foreign aid', with the exception of the ones too left wing for our taste) and the cartels remains extremely porous due to corruption, defection, and the like, we are going to c
        • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:41PM (#34890828)

          actually, that's a lie made by certain BATF agents and aped by Obama, and some congressmen. The accurate statement is 90% of traceable guns that were submitted to the AFT were U.S. origin, and they were submitted because they were likely to be of U.S. origin. Most drug cartel guns in Mexico come from overseas black markets.

          Also Fox News made a false statement, that 17% of the cartel guns were U.S. and the rest foreign. Figure might be twice that or more.

          http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/counting-mexicos-guns/ [factcheck.org]

          • by Smurf (7981)

            The accurate statement is 90% of traceable guns that were submitted to the AFT were U.S. origin, and they were submitted because they were likely to be of U.S. origin.

            Actually the part I emphasized in bold is incorrect also. From the FactCheck article you linked [factcheck.org] (emphasis mine):

            Correction, April 22: We originally concluded that Obama’s 90 percent figure was “not true” and based on a “badly biased” sample of recovered guns. We are retracting both those characterizations, and we apologize to our readers for this error. We have rewritten the article throughout to correct this.
            Our error was to think we had confirmed that Mexican officials submit

        • I read some statistics showing that almost all illegal guns in Mexico could be traced back to legally bought guns in the US, and we're not talking hunting rifles here.

          Those particular stats are (intentionally) highly misleading.

          They ignore the detail that only a tiny fraction of guns captured are traced. And that that tiny fraction does NOT include the AK-47's captured (illegal in the USA), or any other assault rifles (also generally illegal in the USA).

          What you can easily buy in the USA to resell (illeg

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          What about guns bought as gifts?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          Really? Americans sold them fully automatic AKs and hand grenades?
          http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mmBw3uzPnJI/TDL6TdwOQuI/AAAAAAABaVU/B1QMkH2PuQw/s1600/weapons_of_mexican_drug_cartel_17.jpg [blogspot.com]
          http://www.deseretnews.com/photos/midres/874557.jpg [deseretnews.com]

          Those RPG's came from the US?
          http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mmBw3uzPnJI/TDL5zWaiA5I/AAAAAAABaT0/cpJghwohg9c/s1600/weapons_of_mexican_drug_cartel_29.jpg [blogspot.com]
          http://ppjg.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/picture5.jpg [wordpress.com]

          That M60 was probably made in the US, but sure as fuck didn't come to cartel han

    • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:22PM (#34890132) Homepage Journal

      If a portion of the money ($1 billion for 53 miles) was used to create jobs in Mexico, it would likely do far more to stop the tide.

      But this isn't about logic, it's about feelings, and reactionaries who would rather spend money preventing and punishing illegal immigrants than giving anything to said aliens.

      • by Gerafix (1028986)
        Err no, it's about giving lots and lots and lots of money to giant corporations so those said corporations will hire the people who secured them said money.
        • Mod parent up. (Score:4, Informative)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:42PM (#34890298)

          Although I'd expand that a bit more. It's not just about hiring the politicians who got you the money (get $1 billion for our company and we'll hire you at $1 million a year for every year of that contract or subsequent contracts).

          It's also about hiring the FAMILIES of those politicians. Look around and you'll see an amazing number of wives and children of those politicians SOMEHOW working for the very corporations that benefit from the government contracts that those politicians push through based on fear of the (illegals | terrorists | pedophiles).

          • Remember the recent Arizona law that would have required the police to lock up anyone who couldn't prove they were legal? Well NPR did some investigative reporting: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741 [npr.org]

            . It turns out, the Arizona law was actually drafted by the prison industry, who hoped to make a bundle off of it. Yes, illegal immigration is a serious problem, but exploiting fear and hatred to make a profit, at enormous taxpayer expense, by locking up people who just want a bette

      • by Entropius (188861) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:29PM (#34890178)

        This, exactly.

        The people making a stink about "onoz illegals!" IMO don't know what they're talking about. I live near the border (Tucson, AZ), and all these horrible problems created by the dirty Mexicans just ... aren't there.

        Yes, there is some crime associated with drug smuggling; yes, there is a higher crime rate among the poor. But it's better among the Hispanic community here than in many other populations of non-immigrants.

        • by ErikZ (55491) *

          Really? Your hospitals are having no problems whatsoever in getting paid from illegal immigrants?

          • by Entropius (188861) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:40PM (#34890276)

            Not specifically because they're illegal, no.

            Actually, I'd wager that the burden on the health care system from indigent ER abuse from inner-city black populations in Atlanta or Los Angeles is worse than the burden on our ER's from Mexicans.

            And, if you'd offer these folks a path to citizenship, they'd be more able to participate in the economy and pay for health care like everyone else.

            There's an excellent hospital near where I live (the place that they're treating Gabrielle Giffords, actually), and the last time I was there (in the ER at night) it was mostly drunk fraternity/sorority members, not Mexicans.

            • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @05:34PM (#34892498)

              If you offer them a path to citizenship, you just make a mockery of the legislative system-- it ends up saying "Dont do this, but if you really want to you can, and you wont be punished for it". Illegal immigration is illegal (duh), and rewarding it encourages more of it.

              Youre better off reforming immigration laws than undermining the legal system.

      • by Max_W (812974)

        I worked at the border. Borders do not stop people, but jobs and co-development do.

        A lot of people try to cross border illegally to get a new status. If there was not visa requirement and people could move freely, many immigrants would actually part from the USA. The market would start to work.

        Such thing happened in China when they canceled permits for living in a city. Many people sat tight in cities, only because they had invested in permits.

        Ironically it was the USA who called the former USSR to "tear do

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Or perhaps bigots could focus on solving the actual problem and go after the companies that hire them.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:16PM (#34890086) Homepage Journal

    I'm curious as to why the project failed. They claim to have a much cheaper plan that they're going to try now; why didn't they try that in the first place? Is it going to be substantially less effective? So ineffective that it's not worth spending money on that, either?

    The article mentions "glitches and delays". Is that because Boeing is just bad at its job? Or is it a fundamentally difficult thing?

    I'm not asking about the political implications, which are substantial. I just want to know: America is supposed to be good at tech, but this is hardly the first time that a Big Government Project has failed. Is there a lesson we can learn here? Or is it endemic to the fact that the US government does things on a scale no other operation in the world does?

    • by G_REEPER (112154)
      The simplest, cheapest and most effective would be two 16 foot high steel fences and a 20 foot section between them full of claymores.
      • by Entropius (188861)

        1) That's not going to be cheap. Steel is expensive. Claymores are expensive.
        2) That's not going to be effective. I can think of ten ways to get around that if you want to cross.

        You'll kill a lot of vultures, coyotes, bobcats, deer, and javelina though.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        Killing or maiming people with claymores sounds a little excessive for the crime of illegal immigration to me but I do think we should secure or boarder. I like your two 16 foot high fences idea, but I think we should take a pass on claymores. We could put a rail track between them and have fairly regular patrols done from an electric trolley by ICE agents as well. I bet all of that could happen for the costs of a few days in Afghanistan.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Killing or maiming people with claymores sounds a little excessive for the crime of illegal immigration to me

          No kidding. What gets me is that the very same people who appear to want to shoot or otherwise kill illegal border crossers are largely the same who preach sanctity of life.

      • by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @04:11PM (#34891900) Journal

        The simplest, cheapest and most effective would be two 16 foot high steel fences and a 20 foot section between them full of claymores.

        You know, when you start coming up with ideas reminiscent of the Berlin Wall (automatic machine guns rather than claymores, not quite as tall, and a larger space between them), you might consider that you're working for the wrong side.

    • "I'm curious as to why the project failed. They claim to have a much cheaper plan that they're going to try now; why didn't they try that in the first place?"

      If they did that in the first place, the campaign contributors who benefit from those big government contracts wouldn't get much benefit.

    • Unfortunately, like most technology gizmos, details matter [homelandse...wswire.com].

      Stana, who serves as one of Congress’s watchdogs, recently published a Secure Border Initiative (SBI) Report detailing a series of problems with the SBI program, including: issues of camera clarity in bad weather, mechanical problems with the radar, and the radar not being sensitive enough to pick things up.

      A brief search with your search engine of choice will lead you to chapter and verse. It looks like the old problem of 'it should work so we will build it'. No clear plan for piloting the program, poor oversight. The usual stuff.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        Very interesting.

        I do wonder, though. As you say, "it should work". It doesn't seem completely unreasonable as an idea. Was it actually possible to do? Were there any feasibility studies, and if they said it was feasible, why were they wrong?

        (Whether it was necessary or reasonable to do is a political and strategic question that I don't feel qualified to ask, since the answers will always come back with a partisan filter for cherry-picking data.)

    • Projects by big organisations fail all the time but ${BIG BANK}'s failed IT restructuring process doesn't make a good story. The amount of politics, bullshit and people not really knowing what's involved or what they want means that large projects take a great deal of skill to manage. Few managers have that skill.

  • Why, oh why.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:16PM (#34890088) Homepage Journal
    It seems pretty clear that nobody in Washington is interested in controlling illegal immigration, so why do we continue to waste money on it? If you're going to build a fence, build a real fence that actually keeps people out.

    Can't we at least get a better class of pork-barrel projects to funnel money to defense contractors? I'd appreciate getting at least some value for the money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gerafix (1028986)
      But you are getting value for your money! See there's this thing called trickle down economics, so the more money Boeing is paid to do projects like these the more money you'll end up with!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aitikin (909209)
      Because planning on doing nothing is political suicide...

      It's a lot better for a politician to look like they care than for them to look like they don't care period.

      Regardless, a real fence won't keep people out anymore than a lock will keep a thief out, or a password will keep a hacker out. The real problem here is the lack of legal methods of immigration from Mexico, which is not entirely the US's fault, in fact, from my understanding, it's pretty much the Mexican government that makes immigration near
      • The Mexican Constitution guarantees people free transit across the country, including migrating.

        As long as you identify yourself the government can held you against your will inside the country unless they know you have a legal procedure pending that demands you are rooted.

    • The problem is that there are some very powerful people who like the status quo. They get a labor force that works for third-world wages, can't unionize, and doesn't complain to OSHA. Amnesty for illegals would destroy all that. Having effective border controls would destroy it too. So you don't get either.

  • by mseeger (40923) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:20PM (#34890112)

    I think i have an obsession for technical solutions. I can't walk by any new gadget without thinking "That could solve this problem" and ending up buying most of them. But in the end even i learned, that for social problems, you need social solutions. If you try to solve social problems with technology, you will always fail. It's also true the other way round: you cannot solve technological problems with social measures. Unless one accepts that, failures like this fence will happen again and again.

    CU, Martin

    • Sure. Unless you are talking cyberware, chemical/gene modification and hard AI, preferably in combination. The key to "technocratic" solutions is to not so much "fix" social issues, as removing the basis of the problems entirely by altering the human condition. Like with condoms and the pill, for example.
      • by mseeger (40923)

        Even with the pill there was a change of social norms as well. I strongly believe, that technological innovations happen when the time is ripe for them. The steam engine for example was invented several times. It took a certain evironment for it to prosper.

  • When I think "securing borders" I tend to think of it more than just keeping out illegal immigrants, I tend to think of having every inch of our border secured as a national security issue. So with that in mind, I'd prefer something like massive walls with deep trenches, guard watch towers every now and then and so on. Illegal immigration concerns aside I am amazed that we don't take border security more seriously. We certainly have spent tons more money on more ridiculous ideas (elective wars, et
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Well, there's drugs coming in from Mexico and weapons going out to cartels in Mexico and on to wherever they're going. Illegal immigrants sneaking across the border is really the least of the concerns for most people. In practice they aren't stealing jobs that Americans actually want, it's mostly crap jobs that even during the current recession are going unfilled.

      Now, H-1B visas on the other hand...
  • Mandatory 1 year federal prison sentence for each illegal alien employed by anyone for any reason.

    That one sentence would solve the problem immediately and better than any fence or wall.

    • Mandatory 1 year federal prison sentence for each illegal alien employed by anyone for any reason.

      That one sentence would solve the problem immediately and better than any fence or wall.

      But when we keep discovering that the very politicians who complain the loudest about illegal aliens turn out to be the ones with an illegal gardener or nanny, it becomes obvious that this isn't really about keeping illegal aliens out of the country [slashdot.org].

  • A billion dollars? What if I drove to my local Fry's Electronis, and bought IP cams, all-weather cable, cheap routers and switches, and asked you to watch the border from the screen you're on now?

    Oh, and maybe we could have 5,000 iPads or iPhones available for pickup at Apple stores so Border Patrol agents could watch too.

    I could load the stuff in my pickup, you could set up the WAN, and I'm guessing we'd still have $990 million dollars left to buy up some little-used, suddenly available high tech IR and

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:00PM (#34890448)

    Most Illegals come to the US for jobs and/or social services. Deny them that, and they will stop coming. This would be *far* less expensive, and more effective. That would take care of about 70% of the problem. We would still need to patrol for the real bad guys. No system is perfect, but this would make a lot of sense.

    1. Make e-verify mandatory.
    2. Have IDs that are very difficult, if not impossible, to forge. Our money is very difficult to counterfeit, why not do the same with IDs?
    3. No ETINs for illegals.
    4. No sweeping amnesty, ever. No rewards for breaking our law.
    5. As I understand it, in Mexico, you spend, at least, two years in prison for entering the country illegally. That is for the first offense. The US should adopt, and enforce, similar laws.
    6. No more anchor-baby loophole.
    7. Prison time for anybody who knowing hires an illegal.

    See how easy that is? Fixing the illegal immigration problem is not that hard. The problem is corrupt US politicians who do not want to fix the problem, but the corporate owners don't want the problem fixed.

    • Stricter regulations on illegal immigration should go hand-in-hand with a liberalized immigration policy, making it easier and quicker for potential immigrants to come to the country legally as law-abiding taxpayers. There are millions of illegal immigrants in the US who haven't caused any problems for anyone. If we had a sane legal immigration policy to go along with more tightly controlled borders, we'd be in the same place with regards to the number of recent immigrants, except they'd all be "in the sy

    • Who is going to pay and organize that massive administrative burden?

      You can't resolve social issues with your brain dead pseudo solutions.

      The issue at hand is economical disparity: USians can pay cheap labour with their pocket change, and neither party really wants to abandon such fruitful economic interchange. It is only right wing posturing from people that actually don't appreciate the realities of economical interchange in the border that get infuriated about illegal immigration.

      As long as this economic

  • by jbeach (852844) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#34890646) Homepage Journal
    And, you know, actually give out jail time, instead of just the occasional fine they'll deduct from their profits. So those jobs for illegals dry up, and they stop trying to come in.

    I know, I know. That's crazy talk. Why would either party go after rich and powerful people, when they can just spend the sheeple's hard-earned cash? Otherwise they might have to spend it on health care, education, roads, or something else that might actually be useful.
  • by dirkdodgers (1642627) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:32PM (#34890742)

    Let's do the math.

    The US Mexico border is 1,969 miles. Stationing on average 4 guards per mile gives us 7,876 guards. 4 shifts to give us 24x7x365 coverage gives us 31,504 guards.

    31,504 guards would give us 4 guards per mile of US Mexico border, 24x7x365.

    Assume generously that each guard costs us $150,000 / yr for pay, benefits, equipment, logistics, training, and administration.

    BOTTOM LINE: For a price of 4.75 billion USD per year we can have 1 well paid, well equipped guard stationed on average every 1/4 mile along the entire 1,969 miles of the US Mexico border.

    No, that doesn't include facilities and infrastructure to support the operation, but building guard towers, barracks, and administrative buildings is one of the few things that the government excels at.

    Like government make-work programs? This is among the best I can think of in terms of jobs created per $$$ because it puts real people on the ground doing what real people do best. Rather than giving billions to some contractor who will employ 1,000 people, we are CREATING 31,504 NEW JOBS, and they are good hard working outdoor jobs, in the service of our nation, that most Americans would be proud to do and to pay for.

    Personally I would like to see open borders and see us eliminate the uneconomical policies that drive us to fight the free flow of people and ideas, but that's not going to happen, so let's secure the damn thing.

    • You can make a simpler presentation of this concept by simply calling it a 10-fold expansion of the 1991 Border Patrol ($300 million budget for 3,000 agents: http://archive.gao.gov/t2pbat6/147284.pdf [gao.gov]) to 30,000 and $3 billion.

      Part of the problem with this idea - which is generally feasible and affordable - is the ambivalence about locking down the border by people who actually live there. The "patrol" the entire border idea requires building a patrol road and infrastructure where there along the entire bo

    • by swillden (191260)

      Let's do the math.

      The US Mexico border is 1,969 miles. Stationing on average 4 guards per mile gives us 7,876 guards. 4 shifts to give us 24x7x365 coverage gives us 31,504 guards.

      31,504 guards would give us 4 guards per mile of US Mexico border, 24x7x365.

      Assume generously that each guard costs us $150,000 / yr for pay, benefits, equipment, logistics, training, and administration.

      BOTTOM LINE: For a price of 4.75 billion USD per year we can have 1 well paid, well equipped guard stationed on average every 1/4 mile along the entire 1,969 miles of the US Mexico border.

      You're on the right track, but your numbers are a little low. One guard per 1/4 mile is too far apart for any kind of mutual support, and in many places too far apart to prevent people from easily slipping through the gaps.

      To make it work, you need to add fences with sensors. Your 31,000 guards would be sufficient to walk the fences and check for gaps, check alarms, etc., and then you'd need another force of guards, probably another 16,000, set up as alert response teams (ARTs), mounted in trucks.

      If I

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