U.S. Rep. Paul Broun wants to create a high-tech "virtual fence" to secure the nation's borders with minimal manpower, and he heard from several government contractors Friday pitching gadgetry to make that possible.
There was talk of drone planes, portable 25-foot watch towers and cargo boxes lined with electroconductive ink that alerts authorities if imports have been tampered with en route.
"We don't believe we need to have fences across the entire border," John Stammreich, The Boeing Co.'s vice president for global strategy, network and space systems, told the congressman. "But in some places, they are very helpful."
Dr. Broun, an Athens Republican whose district includes Augusta, is one of 25 co-sponsors of a House bill that would authorize development of new technologies to tighten border security. Among other things, the bill calls for research into unmanned aircraft, tunnel detection and counterfeit-resistant documentation.
Friday's congressional forum in Augusta State University's student center ballroom was not only for him to hear testimony, but also to inform the public about ways of stopping illegal immigration and drug smuggling other than building a 6,000-mile wall, Dr. Broun said.
There just isn't enough border patrol and Coast Guard manpower to do the job with binoculars and cameras, he said.
"We can't have them standing every quarter of a mile apart," Dr. Broun said. "We're going to have to rely more and more on technology."
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