Sep 12, 2012

U.S. Grows An Industrial Complex Along The Border


September 12, 2012

The United States' southern border bristles with technology and manpower designed to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Since 1986, the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircraft, detention centers and agents.

But even as federal budgets shrink and illegal immigration ebbs, experts say that there's no end in sight for the growth of the border-industrial complex.

A Growing Investment On The Border

Stocked with equipment like Blackhawk helicopters — hundreds of aircraft fly daily missions — much of the southern border has grown into an industrial complex that is fed by the government and supplied by defense contractors and construction companies.

The infrastructure includes a border fence that in some places has been built and rebuilt several times. And up to 25 miles north of the border, towers, sensors and permanent checkpoints spread across the landscape.

The border-control efforts have spread even farther into the country, into cities where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pursue illegal immigrants and visa violators. Nationally, it extends to roughly 250 immigrant detention centers.

Some of those centers are run by the government, some by private prison corporations. The government spends an estimated $5 million each day to house detainees awaiting deportation.

All of this effort takes manpower; roughly 80,000 federal employees work in immigration enforcement.

"It is safe to say that there has been more money, manpower, infrastructure, technology, invested in the border-protection mission in the last three years than ever before," says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Read more. 

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