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Border Patrol Officials Cancel Speaking Engagements At Security Expo Due To Sequester Cuts

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File photo of a border security expo. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

File photo of a border security expo. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

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PHOENIX (AP) — A border security expo set for Phoenix this week comes at a bad time for companies hoping to sell their high-tech wares to the federal government amid massive spending cuts that are affecting every agency, including the U.S. Border Patrol.

The expo, put on by Eagle Eye Expositions, is set for Tuesday and Wednesday. U.S. Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher and David Aguilar, deputy commissioner of U. S. Customs and Border Protection, were expected to speak at the event, organizers said, but they canceled due to the so-called sequester that brought $43 billion in across-the-board cuts.

Customs and Border Protection says the agency has been forced to limit travel because of the current budget environment in Washington. The agency didn’t say how the spending cuts might affect new purchases or contracts for additional high-tech gear aimed at border security.

Eagle Eye president Paul Mackler said the speakers have been replaced, and the event is still expected to attract more than 180 companies displaying items from enhanced firearms to new drone and remote sensor technologies and communications devices.

Mackler said attendees will include representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“There are a number of government officials from the Washington, D.C., area that, because of sequestration, are now unable to attend the conference this year,” he said.

“We’re disappointed they won’t be here, but it won’t hamper the program,” Mackler added. “There are still billions of dollars that law enforcement agencies at all levels — local, state and federal — are investing and will continue to invest.”

Mackler said that despite the cancellations by high-level government officials, the expo is expected to draw a record crowd with 183 companies displaying their technologies in a 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“The spending cuts definitely are a challenge for technology providers but one of the things we’re trying to play upon is cost-savings for both federal and local authorities,” said Raja Gopal, spokesman for Proxim Wireless, which plans an exhibit at the show aimed at displaying its broadband wireless communications systems. “Security is still paramount and important.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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