News

Lawmakers considering $30M ‘virtual’ fence

Lawmakers considering $30M ‘virtual’ fence

VIRTUAL FENCE FOR A REAL BORDER: The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29. Photo: Reuters/Samantha Sais

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Arizona could spend $30 million to construct a “virtual fence” to ensure the federal government is securing the U.S.-Mexico border from drug smugglers and illegal immigrants under a measure that has narrowly advanced in the state legislature.

State Senator Bob Worsley has proposed putting 300 watch towers, complete with the latest technology, to put what he called extra “eyes on the ground” capable of watching over the roughly 350 miles of border Arizona shares with Mexico.

“People in my state don’t trust what the federal government is telling us when it comes to border security,” said Worsley, a Republican. “This is a way to verify what we’re being told.”

The virtual fence bill narrowly passed a Senate committee on Monday, with Republican lawmakers concerned about the price and privacy problems. It was expected to be tough-going before the Senate appropriations committee and would need to be approved by the full Senate and House and signed by the governor before it becomes law.

“I’m not sure that it’s a good, wise use of money just to tell the federal government, ‘ha ha we can see what you’re doing and we don’t agree with what you’re doing,'” Republican Senator Chester Crandell said during committee debate.

Crandell also said the federal government should be paying for such projects.

Arizona, with its Republican-controlled legislature and governor, has clashed repeatedly in recent years with President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration. Chief among the battles is how to handle the flow of people illegally coming across the porous border into Arizona from Mexico.

Worsley said the virtual fence would allow Arizona to be better prepared if a federal immigration bill sought by Obama is passed this year and signed into law.

Under Worsley’s proposal, the virtual fence would consist of towers placed within one mile (kilometer) of the sprawling border in southern Arizona that would be equipped with radar and video cameras. Anyone with an Internet connection would be able to see what was happening, according to the plans.

Worsley said he already has been in contact with a Utah company that produces such systems and that there are plans to erect a test unit at the state capitol in a few weeks.

In January 2011, the Obama administration blocked a virtual fence project, which had come under criticism, in favor of other security measures. That project cost about $1 billion and was designed to pull together video cameras, radar, sensors and other technologies to catch illegal immigrants and smugglers trying to cross the border.

(Editing by Ken Wills)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 15

lone

A look back on the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Entertainment

This weekend’s celebrity birthdays

bisset

See who will be blowing out the candles on birthday cake this weekend.

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top country tracks

ladyantebellum

LISTEN: This week's top country songs, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Music

Lynn Anderson arrested for DUI

lynnanderson

The Grammy-winning country star was arrested after being involved in a car wreck.

in Entertainment

COUNTDOWN: Fall movie preview

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Ben Affleck in a scene from "Gone Girl." The film will make its world premiere as the opening night film at the 52nd New York Film Festival. The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced Thursday, July 17, 2014, that the highly anticipated adaption of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel will kick off the festival on September 26. The 20th Century Fox thriller, which stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, will premiere in theaters shortly after on October 3.

Here are the 10 movies we are most excited to spend time with between now and the holidays.