Legislation was passed earlier this year to authorize the project without money in the budget to pay for it. Sounds like the same old story of deficit spending engaged in by legislators everywhere.
Not in this case however, as the legislation proposed to cover the costs by using prisoner labor and raising money as if the project were a candidate's campaign.
The state has been very successful in raising money via the Internet to cover legal costs for defending the attack on the immigration legislation that set off a firestorm of protest around the county. Millions have been raised in one year from a dedicated site. The same will be done to solicit funds for the border fence project.
The Arizona Republic reported earlier this month that the fundraising project kickoff will be in the form of an event in the district of the bill's sponsor. "It's because the federal government won't do it and because the state doesn't have the money to do it," said state Sen. Steve Smith, a Maricopa Republican lawmaker.
The Republican controlled legislature passed the bill easily and Governor Jan Brewer signed it, despite the doubts of state Democrats who question the feasibility of constructing a fence that would fulfill the purpose of stemming the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico.
There was no specificity in the legislation about how to raise the money or even what material to use for the fence. The cost per mile is the subject of debate, with the fence's proponents estimating a cost of $50 million to cover the entire 82 miles, while government sources estimate it at $1-3 million per mile.
MSNBC.com reported on the opinion of an Arizona county sheriff who is a staunch opponent of the the immigration legislation.
“I think it’s well intentioned, but you can build all the fence you want to build and unless it’s the right kind of fence and unless you have the manpower to watch it, it’s of very little or no value,” said Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County.
“The federal government has built a lot of fence and most of it has been inadequate in terms of actually stopping people from crossing.”
The fundraising website's launch is scheduled for Wednesday July 20 and State Sen. Smith is not ready to give more than a few hints about how they will position their pitch for money. He told the Republic, it "...will feature a picture of the border and a 'relatively concise' description of the perceived situation - drugs, illegals, terrorists, so on and so on."
Senator Smith also fears interference from the federal government in the form of the Department of Homeland Security, who has its own fence construction project tied up in litigation. If that weren't enough, environmental groups pose a concern as well.
That won't stop the website from being launched and the fundraising drive to begin.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons