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Obama Administration Scraps 'Virtual Border'

The over-budget, under-performing multi-billion SBInet, which had only been deployed over 53 miles of border in four years, will be replaced with a more geographically tailored approach.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
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Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters

The Department of Homeland Security Friday announced that it will end an over-budget, under-performing "virtual fence" that aimed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and replace it with a more modest and geographically tailored effort.

The project, known as SBInet, has cost about $1 billion thus far, but has only accounted for 53 miles of virtual fence along the Arizona-Mexico border. DHS had been considering major changes to the project since at least last January, when Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a major assessment of SBInet and viable alternatives.

Also last year, Napolitano froze money for the expansion of SBInet beyond its deployment along the highly trafficked Arizona-Mexico border, and denied SBInet $50 million in funding that had been included in the stimulus package.

Going forward, DHS will replace SBInet with a new plan that uses existing technology "tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each border region," Napolitano said in a statement. This will include the use of UAVs, mobile surveillance, thermal imaging, and remote video surveillance, as well as some successful elements of SBInet, like stationary radar.

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