US Mexican border 2007
August 25, 2007
One of Boeing's nine high-tech camera-towers costing $67 million to install along the Mexican border. It is to monitor the flow of illegal immigration and drug traffic. The Border Patrol officers claim that it has proved particularly troublesome.
The plan is to secure the area around Sasabe with a network of nine pole-mounted cameras, radar and ground sensors.
The technology is a cornerstone of the government's border strategy for life after the National Guard. Ultimately, there may be as many as 1,800 towers strung along the border.
The devices are supposed to focus cameras on targets moving across the border and relay, via satellite uplink, the information to a command center instantaneously. Then an image of the crossers is supposed to go straight to a patrol truck.
But the cameras track targets 30 seconds late, and rain can disrupt the ultra-sensitive radars, say federal and congressional sources with intimate knowledge of the project. Those sources say contractors underestimated the challenge of integrating off-the-shelf technology on the border. Congressional auditors are in Arizona to investigate.