Federal officials today announced a new crackdown on illegal immigrants. The double-barreled effort includes hitting companies harder in their bottom line when they hire illegals. And it means bringing border security into the 21st century. The fight against illegal immigration is going hi-tech. It's a 28-mile "virtual fence" that will utilize radar and surveillance cameras along the country's south west border. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said, "We have made a commitment to the American people to get the job done and we're going to live up to that commitment. Chertoff, along with Attorney General Michael Mukasey, announced final approval of the fence this morning. The system includes unmanned surveillance towers, equipped with cameras powerful enough to tell whether people are carrying backpacks that may contain weapons or drugs. Mukasey said, "We are trying to raise the costs of coming here illegally, especially for those who come here illegally to commit additional crimes." Chertoff said the fence is already working. On February 13 an officer in Tucson notified federal agents after spotting a group of about 100 people gathered at the border. Soon after the border patrol caught 38 of the 100 people who tried to cross illegally. The others went back into Mexico. Chertoff said, "I have spoken directly to the border patrol agents who are involved in operating that system over the last few months and who have seen it produce actual results." The project hasn't been without controversy. The government paid Boeing $15 million before determining that there were glitches in the test project. And there have been complaints from individual landowners. Chertoff said, "For an individual land owner to say, 'I don't care. I just want to make sure my view of the river is unobstructed,' is not an acceptable answer." As part of the fight against illegal immigration, the government will raise, by 25 percent, fines against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
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