Best Of The Border (9/9-9/13)
Saturday, September 14, 2013
In the coming months, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts will be finalized for new surveillance technology along the Southwest border. The federal government is taking a new approach to awarding these contracts in an effort to avoid past mistakes.
Some defense contractors and private sector tech companies are looking at the Southwest border as a new opportunity. Immigration reform - if it passes - likely will include new funds for security and border enforcement. And that's generating a buzz among companies who see dollar signs.
"Many of the companies who in the last decade relied on that spending, who developed great new technologies for applications overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are looking for a customer to replace that," Thad Bingel said. He's a Washington-based security consultant with Command Consulting Group who previously worked at Customs and Border Protection.
Across the Southwest, groups are canvassing neighborhoods to inform people who are uninsured about how to sign up for coverage under Obama's Affordable Care Act beginning Oct. 1. But getting the message across is a difficult task, especially reaching certain minority groups and those that may not speak English well.
"There are a lot of misconception out there, so we want to put a human face to these folks and say, 'Here are the facts about what happens October 1,'" said Stan Williams, an organizer with the national nonprofit Enroll America.
With Congress back to work, immigration reform advocates are ramping up their efforts to get a bill passed before the end of the year. But debate over the federal deficit and Syria are threatening to push immigration reform to the bottom of the legislative agenda.
Nevada schools have the largest percentage of English Language Learners in the country. For the first time, the state has designated funds to go directly toward improving ELL education. The bulk of the money, nearly $40 million, will go to Las Vegas' Clark County School District, the biggest in the state.
"It's a very challenging place to teach 100 percent, it takes a lot of energy," said teacher Stephanie Shank. In her classroom at Reynaldo Martinez Elementary School, the majority of kids speak little English, and Shank herself speaks only a few words of Spanish.
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