Boeing awarded contract on border fence: Chertoff

By Randall Mikkelsen
1 hour, 40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has decided to award Boeing contracts for the construction of two sections of a high-tech fence to be built along the border with Mexico in Arizona, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

The two fence sections would be an "operational configuration" of a much-criticized 28-mile (45-km) section of "virtual fence" built by Boeing and tested earlier, Chertoff told a news conference.

He said the fence would include fixed towers, with radar sensors, remote control cameras, ground sensors and software linking border agents to give them a "common operating picture" of the areas they are enforcing.

Chertoff dismissed earlier reports of deep trouble with the test section, which had been delayed by several months due to technical problems, including communications and software glitches and fuzzy video images.

At the news conference, called to give an update on U.S. immigration and immigration-control programs, Chertoff also said the government would require all federal contractors to participate in an electronic system to verify that employees are not illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigration has been a simmering issue in this year's presidential campaign. Some Republicans have criticized the party's candidate, Sen. John McCain, for not being tough enough against illegal immigration, while McCain has criticized the virtual fence's problems as a disgrace.

Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama has suggested high-tech controls could minimize the need for physical fencing.

Chertoff said he expected that efforts to control immigration to be fully successful, as defined by the government, by "sometime in 2011." ... fence_dc_3