In 2012, the Obama administration spent $18 billion to secure the US border with Mexico. As much as $2 billion impacted Arizona, according to an examination of the Customs and Border Protection budget.
There are 6,500 CBP employees who work in Arizona, including Border Patrol agents and Customs officers. Business owners in Nogales say these people are a key part of the southern Arizona economy.
"They live here. They shop here. They spend their money here," said Bruce Bracker, whose family owns a department store in downtown Nogales.
But the economic impact of the border is also felt far from the border itself. A recent border security expo held in Phoenix demonstrated how much money is in play in the effort to secure the border.
Vendors from all over the country, including some of the largest defense contractors in the US, set up displays, hoping to catch the eye of top brass from CBP.
"We've brought our Gyrocam 15-inch, triple sensor camera," said Michael Bergeron, from Lockheed Martin Gyrocam Systems.
Bergeron was standing next to a Humvee, outfitted with a camera atop a 10-foot mast.
"It's a technology that has been used in the military since 2005," said Bergeron. "That same technology has many applications here in Arizona, along the border."
Many of the corporations at the expo were feeling the effects of the US pullout in Iraq and Afghanistan. They view border security in the US as a new marketplace.
"It's a natural evolution," said Francis LeCarpentier, who was showing off a full-scale Dynasystems blast-proof building.
"This is the first time it'll be used on the borders," said LeCarpentier, of the buildings that have kept NATO troops safe in war zones for years.
After speaking to several of the vendors, it was clear that the goal of many of these companies was to gain a foothold in the lucrative border security arena.
"We don't currently operate with Customs and Border Protection, but we're hoping to make great inroads with them in the coming year," said David Sliwa, who represents Insitu, whose Scan Eagle UAV was used by the Department of Defense in Iraq.
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