An effort by the State of Arizona to build a fence along its border of Mexico using private funds has stalled, as fundraising money dries up, three years after it was sanctioned by the Legislature.
The project raised $264,000 of the $2.8 million needed to build the first mile of fencing. Arizona State Rep. Steve Smith said it would cost roughly $50 million to erect a 15-foot fence along the state's 375-mile border, according to the Associated Press.
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Supporters say the fence is necessary for keeping illegal immigrants out as well as for protecting national security.
"Because of the federal government's failure to stop this invasion, the State of Arizona signed into law Senate Bill 1406," Buildtheborderfence.com states
, a website created to raise money for the fence. "Part of this important legislation established this website for the purpose of raising funds through donations from citizens, businesses, corporations and anyone from across the country in an effort to finance and finish building our border fence."
The 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, according to the AP.
The state's border security advisory committee has put off moving forward on a new spending plans. The committee includes lawmakers, sheriffs and state department heads.
Smith told the Associated Press he would like to use the money to upgrade current border security in some way.
"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."
The Arizona Republic reported
that State Sen. Gail Griffin, the committee co-chair, announced that a decision on spending the funds would be made at the next meeting on Dec. 10.
Meanwhile, State Rep. David Stevens, another co-chair, told the Arizona Republic that they are still trying to determine their options.
Smith admitted that he has become frustrated with the committee’s lack of progress on spending the money.
"It was my mistake when I wrote the bill," Smith said. "I shouldn’t have given it to another government committee. I would have set it up so a small group of people controlled it."
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