Thursday, March 31, 2011

Critics: U.S. lacks overall strategy at Mexico border

The federal government hasn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the U.S.-Mexico border even as an all-out war between Mexico and its violent drug gangs has claimed 35,000 lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States. The U.S. government has spent nearly $4 billion on various approaches, including a $2.4 billion border fence effort, two deployments of National Guard troops to temporarily bolster the Border Patrol, and a now-defunct $1 billion “virtual fence” that covered 53 miles of the 2,100-mile U.S.-Mexico border until the Obama administration scrapped it earlier this year. “In spite of an effort to do more, there does not appear to be a plan in place that actually accomplishes the objectives of a secure border,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, in a speech this month to the U.S.- Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference. Drugs were catapulted over the physical fence, tunneled under it and even driven over it with homemade ramps. “Show me a 10-foot fence, I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder” became common wisdom along the border. The U.S. also tried the SBInet virtual fence plan, abandoned earlier this year after a billion-dollar expenditure. There’s a new plan to install cameras, radar and other gadgets, but that gear won’t be in place borderwide until at least 2021 and maybe not until 2026, according to the Government Accountability Office...more

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