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Border fence gets $100,000 in donations

Sen. Steve Smith lauds the donations that have already been given toward building a fence along the Arizona-Mexico border. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

A fundraising website launched by the state of Arizona to build more fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border brought in more than $100,000 in donations in its first week of operation.

State Sen. Steve Smith, sponsor of the law authorizing the fence, said the total doesn’t include checks that have come in the mail. The Republican from the community of Maricopa gave a fundraising update Wednesday to a legislative committee focusing on border security.

He said people from 50 states made donations on the day the website launched and that level of activity shows that people recognize the porous southern border is a national problem, not just Arizona’s.

The plan calls for the state to use donated money and inmate labor to build additional fencing along parts of the border, likely on state or privately owned property.

The federal government has already built about 650 miles of fences along the nearly 2,000-mile border, nearly half of it in Arizona.

The costs of the state effort to build more fences are unknown because of several factors, Smith said.

Estimates range between $400,000 to $1.5 million per mile, but organizers hope to get donations and discounts from vendors who will work on the project. Inmate labor also will be used to build the fences, Smith said.

The number of miles of fencing to be built is unknown. The goal is to fence the 82 miles of Arizona’s roughly 375-mile border with Mexico that have no barrier.

The project may also put barriers along an unknown number of miles on the border that may not be properly fenced, Smith said.

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