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Arizona lawmaker proposes $30 million U.S.-Mexico border ‘virtual fence’

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Arizona could spend $30 million to construct a “virtual fence” to ensure the federal government is securing the U.S.-Mexico border from drug smugglers and illegal immigrants under a measure that has narrowly advanced in the state legislature.

State Senator Bob Worsley has proposed putting 300 watch towers, complete with the latest technology, to put what he called extra “eyes on the ground” capable of watching over the roughly 350 miles of border Arizona shares with Mexico.

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“People in my state don’t trust what the federal government is telling us when it comes to border security,” said Worsley, a Republican. “This is a way to verify what we’re being told.”

The virtual fence bill narrowly passed a Senate committee on Monday, with Republican lawmakers concerned about the price and privacy problems. It was expected to be tough-going before the Senate appropriations committee and would need to be approved by the full Senate and House and signed by the governor before it becomes law.

“I’m not sure that it’s a good, wise use of money just to tell the federal government, ‘ha ha we can see what you’re doing and we don’t agree with what you’re doing,'” Republican Senator Chester Crandell said during committee debate.

Crandell also said the federal government should be paying for such projects.

Arizona, with its Republican-controlled legislature and governor, has clashed repeatedly in recent years with President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration. Chief among the battles is how to handle the flow of people illegally coming across the porous border into Arizona from Mexico.

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Worsley said the virtual fence would allow Arizona to be better prepared if a federal immigration bill sought by Obama is passed this year and signed into law.

Under Worsley’s proposal, the virtual fence would consist of towers placed within one mile (kilometer) of the sprawling border in southern Arizona that would be equipped with radar and video cameras. Anyone with an Internet connection would be able to see what was happening, according to the plans.

Worsley said he already has been in contact with a Utah company that produces such systems and that there are plans to erect a test unit at the state capitol in a few weeks.

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In January 2011, the Obama administration blocked a virtual fence project, which had come under criticism, in favor of other security measures. That project cost about $1 billion and was designed to pull together video cameras, radar, sensors and other technologies to catch illegal immigrants and smugglers trying to cross the border.

(Editing by Ken Wills)

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Egypt unveils ‘rare’ ancient pharaoh bust

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A "rare" bust of a statue of the pharaoh Ramses II has been discovered near Giza, south of Cairo, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced Wednesday.

The statue is the first rose granite bust of Ramses II found that includes the "ka" symbol, according to a statement from the ministry, which described the find as "rare".

Ka represented in ancient Egypt the spirit of a human or god that could reside in a statue of the person or deity after death.

The excavation last week by a ministry team took place on private land in Mit Rahina near the site of the ancient city of Memphis around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Cairo, the statement added.

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No one can figure out why John Kennedy compared government documents to ‘dropping acid’

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Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) compared reading government documents to "dropping acid" while in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday and the internet can't figure out how he would know.

"I haven't read the entire report," Kennedy said of the inspector general report on the start of the Russia investigation. "I'm about 70 percent through but I'm going to get through. It's tedious and I don't mean that in a pejorative way, it's supposed to be tedious. About 15 percent of the way through it made me want to heave. After about 25 percent of the way through, I thought I'd dropped acid. It's so real."

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Ukrainians may flip on Trump and stop repeating his talking points: report

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Officials in Ukraine are growing increasingly frustrated with President Donald Trump continuing to prioritize Russia over the American ally, The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

"People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks," The Beast explained. "But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute."

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