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EL PASO, Texas_The governor of Texas wants to turn all the world into a virtual posse. Rick Perry has announced a $5 million plan to install hundreds of night-vision cameras on private land along the Mexican border and put the live video on the Internet, so that anyone with a computer who spots illegal immigrants trying to slip across can report it on a toll-free hot line.
"I look at this as not different from the neighborhood watches we have had in our communities for years and years," Perry said last week.
Some say it is a dangerous idea and a waste of money.
"This is just one of those half-baked ideas that people dream up to save money but have no practical applications," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin. "We would be far better off to invest that money in Mexican small towns along the border so people wouldn't have to emigrate."
The plan marks a political about-face for Perry, a Republican seeking re-election, who has long argued that security along the state's 1,200-mile border with Mexico is strictly a federal responsibility.
This week, he said cuts in federal homeland security funding, a rise in reports of border violence and the crossing of Mexican soldiers into Texas about two years ago have demonstrated that "Texas cannot wait for Washington, D.C., to act."