"Virtual Fence" goes back to the drawing board; real fence delayed

Five days ago Chertoff said that Boeing’s Sauron-tech is already partially online and busting waves of illegal immigrants, and the rest of it would be fired up this summer.

Now, in a whiplash-inducing reversal, it’s going to take three years to get it working. You could blame Boeing, you could blame Chertoff, or you could blame the Politics of Shamnesty:

A nongovernment source familiar with the project said that the Bush administration’s push to speed the project during last year’s immigration debate led Boeing to deploy equipment without enough testing or consultation.

More on its hasty deployment to satisfy conservatives who DIDN’T WANT IT…at least not on its own, which I think we made clear, didn’t we?

It estimated in 2006 that it would spend $7.6 billion through 2011 to secure the entire 2,000-mile southern border, an ambition that was meant to win support from conservatives for a new law creating a guest-worker program and a path to legalization for 12 million illegal immigrants.

Sounds like conservatives were being sold a pig in a poke here–had we signed on for shamnesty like good little soldiers, we’d have gotten a slapdash unreliable virtual fence to pacify us. Well, how about the real fence, then? How’s that coming along? It’s delayed too, and no one’s in a hurry to finish it:

The president’s 2009 budget does not propose funds to add fencing beyond the 700 or so miles meant to be completed this year.

Exit question: Was it worth it? Would we have been better off with amnesty and with the jerry-rigged Skynet fence, than we are with no amnesty, but no hurry on the real fence? I tend to think not; local and state-level enforcement and attrition are taking their toll, and the very act of voting down shamnesty has caused a wave of self-deportation. For many illegal immigrants the denial of the possibility of amnesty was itself an incentive to leave.

It’ll come up again, of course, under the new Congress and under whichever wonderful Presidential candidate gets in, so start contributing now to pro-border security Congressional candidates and make it clear to them where your priorities lie.