Remember the border fence? One year ago last week, an organization headed by a Phoenix-area lawmaker kicked off an ambitious effort to privately fund and construct a massive fence on Arizona’s 376-mile border with Mexico.
It was going to do what the United States government has not done. In the eyes of those behind the project, it would secure the border and make it much more difficult to cross into this country illegally.
Estimates for the project put the cost of construction at somewhere between $1.5 and $2.8 million per mile of fencing. Building would require permission from a variety of federal agencies that govern the lands along the border, and planners hoped some of the labor cost would be covered by inmates working for the Arizona Department of Corrections.
But things aren’t going as planned. After an initial fund-raising appeal drew tens of thousands of dollars, the effort has sputtered. The group behind the fence, Build America’s Fence, has yet to obtain nonprofit status, and, to date, less than enough money to build one-quarter mile of the structure has been contributed, a total of $273,000.
Last week, The Arizona Capitol Times reported organizers, headed by Republican State Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa, had raised just $579 and, in May, nothing at all.
Beyond the cost and arranging the cooperation of the federal government, this effort has been stuck from the beginning on the reality that building a secure fence may be one approach but not the complete solution to solving the border security issue for Arizona and the United States.
In news reports last week — and previously on numerous occasions — federal law enforcement authorities reported sophisticated tunnels being discovered under the border. Last month, we learned of federal prosecution of one its own federal agents who conspired with drug traffickers and allowed contraband to pass through a border checkpoint in Nogales.
After the initial enthusiasm wore thin, and the reality that America needs multiple strategies to handle its security concerns, it appears both the fund-raising effort and the willingness of people to contribute have died.
Now we’ll wait and watch to see what the Phoenix legislator does with $273,000 of goodwill contributions.
(Courtesy of the Sierra Vista Herald)