DHS looks to new technologies to secure borders

Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff said DHS plans to use unmanned aerial vehicles, the next generation of sensors and a host of other new technologies to better secure the borders.

Chertoff late last month announced the department will rely more heavily on new technologies under its Secure Border Initiative, as well as 'boots on the ground.'

The SBI's technology phase will be a retooling of the America's Shield Initiative, a previous plan to upgrade border technology that DHS officials found technically inadequate.

Chertoff added that DHS will issue a request for proposals to procure the products and services.

'We have a program [for border technology] and RFPs for an integrated package that will include integration of sensors, cameras and possibly satellite images [will be is- sued],' Chertoff said. 'This is the next generation of sensors. We do expect in short order to be soliciting proposals.'

The Border Patrol has successfully experimented with UAVs over the past two years along parts of the southern border, officials said. And now, DHS wants to expand their use.

The department has created a program office to oversee SBI's technology phase.

DHS also plans to improve technology for employers to check the eligibility of prospective workers, Chertoff said. He acknowledged that employers currently have been stymied by federal responses to inquiries about employment eligibility.

SBI includes several measures such as deploying the additional Border Patrol agents that Congress has funded, providing more detention beds for illegal entrants and ending the 'catch and release' policy under which aliens have been let go and given court dates that they routinely skipped.

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