The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving ahead today with several
advancements in the construction of pedestrian and virtual fencing along the southwest
border. These advancements will add to more than 284 miles of fencing already
in place and is said to enable construction of roughly 670 miles of fencing by
the end of December 2008.
In the words of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, "The American
public has been loud and clear in their call for secure borders," he also
added, "We will continue to use every tool, resource and authority we have
to answer that call. Without the participation of border residents and the technology
to span remote areas, we place an unfair burden on our frontline personnel and
will have difficulty meeting the expectations of the American public."
In recent times, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made preliminary
determinations about where pedestrian fencing should be built and, working with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), contacted the landowners in the area,
often in person. While many landowners allowed entry to conduct engineering tests
and surveys to determine if the land is suitable for fence building, others did
not respond or refused entry. Today, CBP will mail letters to those landowners
notifying them that an action will be brought in federal court for a temporary
right of entry to conduct tests and surveys. If CBP and USACE determine that the
land is suitable for fence-building, they will negotiate with the landowner on
a purchase price. If these negotiations are unsuccessful, the government will
return to court to seek title and possession and the court will determine the
appropriate price. So far, the federal government has contacted roughly 600 landowners
and held more than 18 community town hall meetings to discuss this process with
residents, local officials and other interested parties.
Also today, CBP will take conditional possession of the prototype Project 28 (P28)
system to conduct operational testing following the recent completion of systems
verification testing by Boeing. Located near Sasabe, Ariz., P28 is a prototype
development of nine towers equipped with radar and communications systems and
automated ground sensors linked to a command and control center and monitors in
Border Patrol vehicles. For the next 45 days, the Border Patrol will stress the
system in an operational setting before fully accepting it from the contractor.
P28 testing will contribute to the future design and deployment of technologies
at the border.
CBP is also awarding a $64 million task order to the Boeing Company to design,
develop and test an upgraded Common Operating Picture software system for Border
Patrol command centers and agent vehicles. This will provide the department with
an enhanced capability in its effort to secure the border.