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Revisiting the Virtual Fence and Immigration Policy

It looks like plans to erect an "operational configuration" of Boeing's virtual fence, also known as Project 28 are moving ahead. This apparently will include the installation of towers, radar, ground sensors, cameras and what would be expected to be upgraded software to make the system more usable by Border agents. It should be remembered that one of the complaints about the prototype P-28 installation was unusable images and software glitches.

Simultaneously, this comes with the announcement that President Bush had recently signed the Executive Order implementing the E-verify program, a mandate that makes all federal contractors participate to verify that employees are not illegal immigrants. The notice for this EO was published in the Federal Register on June 12th and indicates that the federal contractors will foot the large majority of the costs of implementation (estimated at $550 million over ten years, with $308 million in start-up and training costs).

“The E-Verify System is expected to help contractors avoid employment of unauthorized aliens and will assist federal agencies to avoid contracting with companies that knowingly hire unauthorized aliens,” the rule states.

It is important to understand that the E-verify program is not fool-proof with 7% of the queries being unable to be confirmed by Social Security checks, 1% not being immediately confirmed by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services and the system not being immune to compromise through identity theft. Still, each step toward a more secure border and toward at least minimizing federal contractors hiring illegal workers, is a positive step,