The Virtually Not Here Border Fence

by Published on

I’m not surprised anymore when I read a news report that Boeing Co.’s “virtual fence” is behind schedule and experiencing “technical glitches.”

Originally, we were told the virtual fence would be finished along the southern border by 2011. It’s now been pushed back to 2014 because of technical glitches.

The Associated Press reports today that Washington has spent $672 million on the “virtual fence” which consists of cameras, ground sensors and radar, along the southern border.

The worst part is the radar can’t “distinguish between vegetation and people when its is windy” according to the article. This is just about every day, at least along the Texas-Mexico border. Also by the time the camera operator picks up the satellite image of whatever object appears suspicious the object is already gone.

Boeing is blaming the technical issues on the government’s misguided belief back in 2005 (when they started this boondoggle)  that the fence could be put together easily with off-the-shelf components. Five years later and $672 million later they are still trying to cobble something together that works.

My guess is if the government fires Boeing at this point they will take their proprietary equipment with them and D.C. will have to start all over again.

Sounds like Boeing has a pretty good stimulus package.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.