In recent testimony to Congress, Mr. Mark Borkowski stated that, “…the plan…is admittedly behind schedule…”. The plan he refers to is part of the newest version of SBI called the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign. The plan refers to the attempt to construct surveillance towers along the Arizona border.
Mr. Borkowski is now the assistant commissioner at Customs and Border Protection in the Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition. Before that he was the leader of SBI, the Secure Border Initiative.
If this at all sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because since 1989 the Border Patrol has rolled out a series of programs that promised to control illegal immigration, illegal drugs, and possible terrorists. First there was ICAD, ICAD II, and ICAD III. Then came ISIS, eventually followed by the ASI and finally, in 2006, SBI, SBInet, and its derivatives.
What all of these border surveillance programs have in common is that none of them, not one, worked as promised. Now we have a new program, but the same old leadership under Mr. Borkowksi. Borkowski led SBInet from 2006 until its demise in 2011. SBI cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.
This time around Mr. Borkowski’s explanations for why he is again behind schedule-and why we should ignore a recent GAO report questioning the success to date of the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign-sound very familiar. We’ve heard these excuses many times before.
Two and one-half decades should have been more than enough time for Mr. Borkowski and CBP finally to get it right. Both the public and Congress need to pay close attention or we will again end up spending billions for border surveillance that does not work.