The Senate Appropriations Committee last week recommended providing $400 million for funding of border security technology in Arizona, $127.6 million less than requested by the Department of Homeland Security due to large unobligated balances the department already has for these purposes.
In their report accompany the mark-up of the FY ’12 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, the Senate appropriators say that as of July 31 there is an unobligated balance of over $440 million in the Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT) account. The BSFIT account has been used to fund the now terminated Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet), physical fencing, and tactical infrastructure along portions of the United States’ border with Mexico.
The House funded $510 million for BSFIT.
Earlier this year, DHS canceled SBInet, which was to be a series of fixed-towers equipped with cameras, radar and communications equipment, along the nation’s southwest border in favor of a new surveillance network that includes some fixed towers, mobile towers and pole-mounted cameras. The new initiative is just for Arizona’s border with Mexico for the time being and is supposed to be deployed by 2015.
SBInet was to be fully deployed along the southwest border by 2011.
“The committee is extremely disappointed that the administration has on two occasions delayed deployment and expansion of security technology along the Southwest Border,” the report says. “As a result of these reviews, more than a year of technology deployment activity has been lost to numerous reconsiderations and reviews.”
The committee recommends fully funding the $45 million DHS is requesting for security activities on the northern border with Canada, noting that it is concerned with increased drug smuggling there using small aircraft, which are flying low to evade radar.