State Capitol News
8:30 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Legislators Propose Spending $30 Million for Border Webcams

State taxpayers may spend $30 million determine if the federal government is living up to its commitment to secure the border. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Sen. Bob Worsley said this box of radar and infrared cameras — and 29 of them just like it — will help Arizona determine if the federal government is living up to its promise to secure the border. However, that will cost state taxpayers $30 million.
Credit Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

Sen. Bob Worsley wants to erect a network of infrared sensors and cameras about every mile along the southern border. He said what the sensors and cameras see would be fed on a real-time basis to the Internet, where anyone could watch.

“This is not a budget to interdict or to stop any activity. This is monitoring independently the claims of our federal government relative to how secure our border is,” Worsley said.

Sen. Chester Crandell said it would be one thing to spend taxpayer dollars to help the Department of Public Safety actually secure the border. But, Crandell said all this would provide is essentially live feeds for Arizonans to watch the border.

“I can tell you, DPS right now would love to have $30 million put in their budget to be able to hire some more officers to be able to assist in drug enforcement and so on like this. I’m not sure it’s a good, wise use of money just to tell the federal government, ‘Ha, ha, we can see what you’re doing and we don’t agree with what you’re doing,’” Crandell said.

And, Sen. Kelli Ward expressed concern about privacy, questioning what else the cameras can see. But in the end, the Senate Committee on Government and Environment voted 4-3 along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, to push the plan ahead.