Research: Publications

Fallacies of High-Tech Fixes for Border Security

April 14, 2010 | Report

By Tom Barry

Download PDF | HTML Version

The Center for International Policy announces the release of its new report, Fallacies of High-Tech Fixes for Border Security, which examines the promises and impact of remote surveillance technologies in the drive by the Department of Homeland Security to secure the border.

Lately, public calls for more “border security” are rising as drug-related killings intensify in Mexico’s northern borderlands and fears escalate on the U.S. side of the border that this violence will spill over. Observers of immigration policy say that a secure border is fundamental to passing comprehensive immigration reform.

This report is a cautionary note about the high costs and dubious results of two high-tech fixes for border security: the attempts to construct a “virtual fence” through the Secure Border Initiative and the new enthusiasm for unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the border.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) professes a commitment to protecting the homeland against the entry of “dangerous people and goods.” Yet it lacks a strategy that prioritizes actual threats, and its high-tech initiatives are shockingly unfocused and nonstrategic. Despite the vast sums being spent, DHS, through its Secure Border Initiative, points to illegal border crossers and pounds of marijuana captured as its main indicators of success in protecting the homeland.

With little or no in-house technological expertise and with seemingly unlimited funds, DHS has recklessly pursued border security strategies that are not tied to threat assessments and cost-benefit evaluations.

Fallacies of High-Tech Fixes for Border Security was written by Tom Barry, director of the TransBorder Project of the Center for International Policy.

Download PDF | HTML Version

CIP in the Press
  • Trump ready to approve weapons packages to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain that Obama blocked

    William D. Hartung quoted, 02-08-17

    The Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations, U.S. officials and congressional sources say...Read More »

  • Ex-Diplomat: Congress to Scrutinize Tillerson Efforts to 'Make Deal' With Russia

    Harry Blaney quoted

    Sputnik International, 02-02-17

    On Wednesday, the US Senate in a final vote confirmed Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, as President Donald Trump's secretary of state by a 56 to 43 vote, with Republicans backing the nominee and most Democrats opposing him...Read More »

  • Memorandum

    Bill Goodfellow


    John Niles, the Center for International Policy’s board chair, has announced that I will be stepping down as executive director. After 42 years, I need a change and I believe CIP will benefit from a leader with new ideas and new energy. With Donald Trump in the White House, we face enormous challenges and we will have to dramatically ramp up our activities to respond to what I believe is the greatest threat to world peace since the end of World War II...Read More »