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The U.S. involvement in the Iraq war is over, and the country will soon withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Federal budgets cuts shrink agencies’ ability to conduct research and development. Faced with these realities, military contractors have begun to focus on border security.
What many defense companies find especially appealing is the fact that the Senate immigration bill conditions any move toward legalizing the status of more than eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States on the strengthening of security along the U.S. – Mexico border.
There is a debate among senators on how to measure border security, but the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a draft of the immigration reform bill which defines the border security benchmark as having an “effective control” and “persistent surveillance” of the entire border with Mexico. Once in place, the security measures must be able to apprehend or turn back 90 percent of people trying to cross the border.
The New York Times reports that DHS will submit a plan to Congress, showing the $4.5 billion allocated to border security in the immigration reform bill will be divided among various technologies — long-range cameras, radar systems, mobile surveillance equipment, aircraft, and lower-tech solutions such as border agents and physical fences.
Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and other companies are gearing up to show DHS their military-grade radar and long-range camera systems during an event this summer in order to win border security contracts which could be worth $1 billion.
“It has been a tough time for the industry: people have been laid off or furloughed,” James Creaghan, a lobbyist who represents a small Texas company, Personal Defense, which is trying to sell more night-vision goggles to Homeland Security, told the Times. “This could help out.”