A 60 Minutes investigation Sunday highlighted the flaws in what’s known as the virtual fence — a system of radars, cameras and sensors along the U.S.-Mexico border designed to help Border Patrol agents snag smugglers and immigrants.

One glaring problem the investigation found in the multi-billion dollar effort: The people who designed the system never actually asked Border Patrol agents what would work best for them.

The piece is relevant here for a couple of reasons. First, it features criticism from Wayne Cornelius, a University of California, San Diego immigration studies professor.

Second, the failures in the virtual fence erode one of the arguments made by border fence opponents locally. They’ve argued for more technical infrastructure, like cameras and sensors, instead of physical infrastructure, like barriers, steel fencing and roads. But despite the money spent to date, the virtual fence looks like a flop. Here’s a link to the full piece:


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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