CORPORATIZING THE BORDER

What a surprise. George W wants to turn the illegal immigration issue into another multibillion-dollar boondoggle for giant corporations.

What a surprise. George W wants to turn the illegal immigration issue into another multibillion-dollar boondoggle for giant corporations.

Such military contractors as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman are lined up at the federal trough yet again, drooling at what Bush calls the Secure Border Initiative. This scheme will give government contracts to corporations to build a high-tech “virtual fence” along our nation’s borders. “We are launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history,” bragged Bush.

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Actually, that’s not a very high hurdle, for our history of border security is littered with high-priced technological failures. Take the nearly-half-billion dollar program of video cameras, electronic sensors, and other cutting-edge technologies that corporate contractors provided for the Mexican border just a few years ago. Half of the cameras didn’t work or were never installed. The ground sensors did set off alarms – but in 92 percent of the cases they were triggered not by illegals, but by a wild animal or a passing train.

Now, here they come again. Lockheed Martin, for example, is touting its Tethered Aerostat Radar as a border solution. This massive blimp, twice the size of Goodyear’s, would be tethered to the ground by a long cable, monitoring all movement below. One little problem, though: it can’t be used in high winds. Another piece of razzle-dazzle technology was a $6.8 million unmanned plane to patrol the border. It crashed in April after less than a year’s use.

This is Jim Hightower saying… These military contractors have sorry records of cost overruns, fraud, and products that are defective or useless – we’re to turn border security over to them? Bush’s scheme is all about political posturing and fattening his corporate backers. The problem of illegal immigration requires an honest economic solution – not merely buying more hardware from high-tech hucksters.

Sources:
“Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors for Border Control,” The New York Times, May 18, 2006.

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