February 28, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Technical problems have forced the Bush administration to retool a high-tech “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexico border and will delay the first phase for at least three years, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, many from Mexico. Immigration is a highly charged topic and a major issue in the campaign for November’s presidential election.

Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told lawmakers on Wednesday that problems found in the 28-mile pilot project built near Nogales, Arizona, by Boeing Co. will require a change in plans, the Post reported.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had announced on Friday, during a review of border-control efforts, that the so-called Project 28 was finally ready for service in efforts to stop illegal crossings.

The $20 million project of sensor towers and advanced mobile communications was supposed to be completed in mid-2007 but had been delayed by software problems.

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