Associated Press / USA Today
November 6, 2013
PHOENIX (AP) — A plan by Republican Arizona lawmakers to build a mile
of fencing along the border with Mexico using private money has stalled
nearly three years after it was sanctioned by the Legislature.
donations expected to fund the project dried up after only a fraction
of the funding was in hand, leaving the project far short of its lofty
Lawmakers on a border security committee that met Wednesday
acknowledged the state has received just $264,000 for the project, well
short of the $2.8 million needed to build the first mile of fencing.
plan championed by Rep. Steve Smith originally called for collecting as
much as $50 million to build a 15-foot fence at busy,
yet-to-be-determined border-crossing points then erecting fences along
miles of the state's 375-mile border that have no federal fences.
effort began during the height of Arizona's battle against illegal
immigration, before a backlash that left former state Senate President
Russell Pearce out of a job after a recall and the GOP-led Legislature
with no more appetite for measures targeting immigration.
Arizona Legislature's border security advisory committee, which includes
lawmakers, sheriff's and state department heads, took no action
Wednesday on a new spending plan. It also put off until next month a
discussion on how to allocate what money it has.
up less than six months after the state launched a website in 2011 to
collect money for the project. In December of that year, the state had
more than $250,000, but the tally remained at just over $264,000 on
Smith, R-Maricopa, said he still hopes to use the cash
as seed money for some type of enhanced border security — a fence or
some other measure he declined to detail.
"I think all options are
on the table," Smith said. "I think people would be really surprised
what we can do with a little bit of funds."
co-chair, Rep. David Stevens, said Smith is considering asking the
committee to distribute money to sheriffs with jurisdictions along the
"He wants to put it to use on the border, because it's not
enough to build a fence," Stevens said Tuesday evening. Smith would not
confirm that on Wednesday.
The Legislature created the committee
in 2011 and tasked it with making recommendations to the governor about
how to handle the border. The fence project was one of its key goals