Militarizing The Border By Frida Berrigan 14 April, 2007
The sun was strong and so was the rhetoric, as President George W. Bush headed to Yuma, Arizona on April 9 to tackle the problem of illegal immigration. Flanked by uniformed border agents, national guardsmen and members of local law enforcement whose stiff formality emphasized his bare-armed enthusiasm, the president asserted that “securing the border is a critical part of a strategy for comprehensive immigration reform… Congress is going to take up the legislation on immigration. It is a matter of national interest and it's a matter of deep conviction for me.” The president rolled up his shirt sleeves and blamed a host of problems on illegal immigration: it “puts pressure on the public schools and the hospitals… drains the state and local budgets… brings crime to our communities.” He also urged Congress to get behind a tangle of proposals ranging from more border patrols and a guest worker program to stiffer penalties for illegal immigrants and the people who employ them. But the heart of President Bush’s effort against illegal immigration is the multi-billion dollar Secure Border Initiative (SBI).
As with so many other pressing issues -- from terrorism to oil dependency -- the White House is turning to the military industrial complex for a solution. SBI is the plan of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to erect a "virtual fence" of monitors, sensors, unmanned planes, and communications to help border agents catch illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. In September 2006, DHS awarded initial contracts -- worth upwards of $2 billion -- for the high-tech surveillance technology along border region to weapons giant Boeing.(Click here to read more)