Failed virtual border fence gets 'do-over'

March 11, 2009 at 12:33 PM

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it has stepped up efforts to build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The project is being aided by $100 million from the economic stimulus package signed by U.S. President Barack Obama, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Many problems plagued a 28-mile virtual fence prototype attempted two years ago in Arizona and so the project was scrapped. But Homeland Security is embarking on what it says is a "do-over" along the same area near Tucson, as well as another 30-mile stretch in Ajo, Ariz., the newspaper said.

"Our patience is running real thin because we've been at this several years," U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., told Homeland Security officials at a Tuesday appropriations hearing. "We're expecting results."

Critics are blasting a decision allowing the same contractor, The Boeing Co., to continue on with the multiyear, $6.7 billion project, USA Today said. Problems with the first effort reportedly included pole cameras, radar and communications systems that didn't work well and couldn't be used by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

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