Border ‘Surge’ Plan Would Be Financial Bonanza for Private Firms

The $46-billion security package in the immigration bill would benefit aerospace, technology and security companies, as well as border states.

Immigration bill

The Senate immigration bill includes a plan to check the fingerprints of foreigners leaving the U.S., an idea the Homeland Security Department says would do little to halt illegal immigration. (John Moore / Getty Images / May 30, 2013)

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WASHINGTON — A plan to check fingerprints of foreigners leaving the U.S. is popular in Congress — but not at the Homeland Security Department, where officials say the technology would do little to halt illegal immigration.

But thanks in part to lobbying by security contractors, the Senate immigration bill that goes to the Republican-led House this week includes a computerized “biometric” exit system that could cost more than $7 billion.

The plan is part of the bill’s $46-billion border “surge” of security measures, a 10-year spending gusher that would produce a financial bonanza for some of America’s largest aerospace, technology and security companies, as well as some border states.

The legislation would force the Homeland Security Department — which has a total proposed budget of $39 billion in fiscal year 2014 — to absorb a staggering increase in funding, equipment and staff at a time when most federal agencies and departments are struggling with budget cutbacks, furloughs and reduced services.

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