Lawmakers tout virtual border fence

May 10, 2008 at 3:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- More sections of the U.S-Mexico border eventually could be secured by the same kind of high-tech virtual fence that's been deployed in Arizona, officials said.

Two subcommittee chairmen within the House Homeland Security Committee -- Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Christopher Carney, D-Pa. -- made the comments after seeing the $20.6 million virtual fence near Sasabe, Ariz., the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday.

The virtual fence uses high-tech surveillance towers, cameras, radar, ground sensors and unmanned aerial drones to monitor a 28-mile section of the 1,947-mile U.S.-Mexico border, the newspaper reported.

"In Texas, there is an outcry and a great deal of conflict over installing physical barriers along the border," said Lee, who heads the subcommittee on transportation security and infrastructure protection.

Carney, the chairman of the panel's oversight subcommittee, said the virtual fence can be deployed elsewhere along the border "once we make sure the bugs are ironed out."

After touring the virtual fence, Jackson Lee said she was turned from a skeptic into a believer that the fence could help intercept illegal immigrants and drug traffickers.

"I've changed my assessment because the technology did not work -- and now it does," she said.

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