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Lawmakers want Arizona border fence started

FILE In this Wednesday, July 28, 2010 file picture, a U.S. border patrol vehicle drives along the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Yuma, Ariz. as seen from the outskirts of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. As Congress debates border funding and governors demand more assistance, The taxpayers footing this bill, see returns have been mixed: fewer illegal immigrants but little impact on the terrorism issue, and no stoppage of the drug supply. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

Members of the Arizona Legislature’s border security advisory committee want the state to begin building a mile of fencing along the border with Mexico even though it has raised only a fraction of the needed money.

The committee has raised just 10 percent of the $2.8 million needed to complete a mile of fencing. The ultimate goal is to build 200 miles of border fencing.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, tells the Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/PbAWxB ) he believes more private donations will come in once construction begins.

Construction could begin by the end of the year using private fencing companies, some donated supplies and prison inmate labor, Smith said. The project is meant to complement the federal government’s border fencing program.

The Legislature created the committee in 2010 and tasked it with making recommendations to the governor about how to handle the border, and the fence project is one of its key goals. Members include Republican state lawmakers, county sheriffs and state department heads.

Despite the committee being charged with making security recommendations, none have been made since it began meeting in March 2011.

“I don’t think we have enough info to make a recommendation,” said co-chairman Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma. “There’s so much technology that’s important given the challenging terrain.”

The committee also has failed to meet state law requirements that it file monthly status reports, and it hasn’t met since April.

In November 2011 the committee submitted its first and only report to the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president, detailing the prior nine months of meetings.

Jones said they are looking into revising the law requiring monthly reports.

“Reporting once a month becomes cumbersome,” he said. “We don’t have enough new information to go through the bureaucracy.”

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