Friday, June 18, 2010

DHS backing off Mexico border fence

It was once an ambitious plan, to build a fence with the most sophisticated technology along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Originally expected to run about 655 miles, the troubled, multibillion-dollar project has now been reduced to a plan for 387 miles, and its designers have lowered its technical standards “to the point that … system performance will be deemed acceptable if it identifies less than 50 percent of items of interest that cross the border.”

“The result,” said the Government Accountability Office in a withering report Thursday afternoon, “is a system that is unlikely to live up to expectations.”

DHS doesn’t even have “a reliable master schedule for delivering” even the “first block of SBInet,” as the Secure Border Initiative is known.

“As a result, it is unclear when the first block will be completed, and continued delays are likely,” the GAO said.

Meanwhile, DHS doesn’t have a realistic grasp of SBINet’s future costs, investigators found.

All in all, the report amounted to a grim picture of the project’s future, noting its “decreasing scope, uncertain timing, unclear value proposition, and limited life cycle management discipline and rigor ….”

It "remains unclear,” the GAO said, “whether the department’s pursuit of SBInet is a cost effective course of action, and if it is, that it will produce expected results on time and within budget.”

Indeed, DHS is rethinking the whole thing, SBINet’s executive directortold Congress, according to the National Journal’s Web site.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rep. Steve King's Distortions About Border Security

by John Carlos Frey
A few days ago The Iowa Independent featured an article about U.S. Congressman Steve King's assertion that a 2,000-mile long border wall between the U.S. and Mexico would have prevented the shooting death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, a fifteen year old Mexican National who was recently gunned down by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. Congressman King also said, "A border wall would dramatically reduce illegal immigration." According to King, more border walls would prevent violence, death and illegal immigration. On all accounts Mr. King is factually wrong and possibly lying to score political points. A bullet killed the Mexican teenager, not the lack of a border fence. We have never had more border walls than we do today and the federal government that built the structures cannot even ascertain whether or not they are effective. Yes, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), after billions of dollars in contracts to build the current border walls, cannot determine whether or not they prevent illegal immigration.