With all the Bush Administration bluster about border security, you'd think that keeping track of the comings and goings of non-citizens might be a high priority. But given that FEMA -- which is supposed to be taking care of our own citizens -- can't even develop a computer program to track whether Katrina victims are getting housing assistance, should it be surprising that the Department of Homeland Security has squandered over a billion dollars on the U.S. VISIT program, and then decided to scrap a major part of it?
But that's par for the course for DHS, which bleeds over $10 billion to government contractors a year, when a lot of them just take the money and run. That is, they start the project, and then they throw up their hands and say it can't be done. Screw the public, which is footing the bill without a money-back guarantee. Even if the project is a "top priority", as DHS claims U.S. VISIT is.
DHS has decided that it's just too complicated and expensive to develop the technology to track who's leaving the country (and, in the case of people overstaying their visas, who's not). Now I'm no anti-immigration nut and am certainly not a fan of the biometric technology, like the facial, fingerprint or iris recognition techology that was under consideration for the U.S. VISIT program. But this story really isn't about border security. It's about corruption and our broken government. Read on...
International Herald Tribune has more on the VISIT program. On a related note, DHS will start requiring passports for all travel outside the US starting in 2007, touting the new e-passports for tracking and security purposes. One problem: they're easily cloned. Is there nothing about "homeland security" at which they aren't completely inept? Feel safer, folks?