9 On Your Side Border Watch
State of AZ launches fundraising for border fence
Reporter: Craig Smith
Web Producer: Layla Tang
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The State of Arizona has set up a website to collect donations for one of the hot button issues in border politics---building a border fence.
Buildtheborderfence.com is the product of a new state law. The site bears the same copyright as the Arizona's official site. It's meant to be a convenient way to donate money to build more fence on the border. Ultimately, state lawmakers hope to raise $50 million in order to a more secure border fence between Arizona and Mexico.
In Casa Grande Wednesday night there was a kickoff dinner to drum up support for the website. State Senator Steve Smith was in attendance; he convinced fellow lawmakers to approve the idea for a website. He said if the federal Government won't build enough fence the state will collect donations and build fence on its own.
"How far would the money go?" KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked him. "Do you have any estimate on cost per mile?"
"Sure. The Government Accountability Office puts it at anywhere between $400,000 to up to a million and a half, $2 to $3 million depending on what kind of fence you want per mile," Sen. Smith responded. "One of the provisions I put in the bill is to use inmate labor and that's to help all the construction costs associated with it. That's gonna drastically reduce those numbers because we'll use inmate labor at about 50 cents an hour."
Not everyone, however, supports the idea of raising funds to build a border fence. To the Border Action Network, the whole idea sounds like a political stunt.
"We think that a serious look at the immigration issue [would work better]. We look at why people come to the United States, what do they do, how we can make sure those that want to come in and work can do so legally," said Jaime Farrant of the Border Action Network.
State Senate President Russell Pearce may be the most aggressive lawmaker on immigration enforcement. He said it has help cut crime and prison populations. However, he said that taking donations and building more fence is part of what the state needs.
"You've got to go after illegal employers. You have to take the handcuffs off law enforcement and you have to secure the border. And I believe with all my heart that we must enforce our laws with compassion but without apology," Sen. Pearce told KGUN9.
The site went live at 12:01a.m. Wednesday. A Republican spokesman says as of mid-afternoon Wednesday the site had pulled in about $32,000.
To visit the website, click here.