Arizona Seeking Donations to Build Border Fence

The state of Arizona is seeking donations for construction of the border fence.

Via the AP:  Ariz. seeks online donations to build border fence

“We’re going to build this site as fast as we can, and promote it, and market the heck out of it,” said Smith, a first-term Republican senator from Maricopa.

Arizona — strapped for cash and mired in a budget crisis — is already using public donations to pay for its legal defense of the SB1070 illegal immigration law.


Arizona’s existing border security fund is being used to pay for legal costs of defending SB1070 in court, though Brewer’s 2010 executive order creating the fund allows its money to be used for any “border security purpose.” A federal judge has blocked implementation of key parts of SB1070, but Brewer has said she’ll take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The fund through Wednesday has received nearly 44,000 donations totaling more than $3.7 million, collected online and through mailed donations since May 2010. Roughly half of the money has been spent, and Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the balance is also needed for SB1070-related legal expenses.

Smith and other supporters of the border-fence legislation haven’t produced any cost estimates for the state project, saying only that the state should be able to do it far more inexpensively than the federal government.

That still could be put the state’s costs in the tens of millions of dollars — or m

Given the state of things like education (both K-12 and higher ed) in Arizona, one does wonder about the priorities of the state legislature.

At any rate…

One way that they hope to be able to reduce costs is the use of inmate labor:

State Corrections Director Charles Ryan said getting inmate labor to help construct border fencing wouldn’t be a problem.

Minimum-security prisoners already have been used to clear brush in immigrants’ hiding spots near the border and clean up trash and other material dumped by border-crossers, he said.

Work crews of Arizona inmates also have been used to refurbish public buildings, build sidewalks and construct park facilities.

At 50 cents an hour, “we are a relatively inexpensive labor force,” Ryan said. “If we have the funding to do it, we’re capable of doing it.”

I  must confess, while I do not have a problem with inmates doing community service, I find the notion that the state considers the inmate population to be a pool of cheap labor for major public works to be unsettling.

The quote that struck me the most in the piece was the following:

“My constituents want this thing fixed and fixed once and for all, and we’re going to do it,” Republican Sen. Al Melvin of Tucson said during a February committee hearing. “People should not be dying in the desert.”

First, there is no “fixed once and for all” on this issue.  A fence will slow/divert illegal flows.  It will not halt them.  To pretend otherwise is to misunderstanding the problem.  Illegal immigration is driven by lack of jobs and poverty in Mexico and a demand for cheap labor in the United States.  A fence does address root cause.

As such, I can’t disagree with the following:

“If we are here to pass symbolic legislation and not really address border security, SB1406 does the job. But people don’t benefit from symbolic legislation,” Democratic Rep. Catherine Miranda of Phoenix said April 18 House vote.

I will conclude by noting that even if a fence is constructed,* its efficacy will be substantially limited if there are no funds to adequately monitor said fence.


*There is also the question of what type of fence can be constructed under such a program (e.g., single, double or triple layered?  high tech or no?  etc.).

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. JKB says:

    You are correct that the fence will only slow and doesn’t address the root causes. But SB1070 does address the root causes by permitting state law enforcement to go after employers of illegals and those unauthorized aliens already in the area. Thus cutting off the near border incentive and making unauthorized alien presence untenable. Arizona can’t address the foolhardy policies of California and other Liberal climes that have policies that encourage unlawful entry into the US.

    As for the failed kleptocratic, socialist government of Mexico, outside of invasion and running it as a protectorate, there is little the US can do. Are you advocating that we execute a humanitarian intervention to halt the Mexican government’s negligence in supporting its populace?

  2. Chad S says:

    You know how you can have it built on the cheap? Hire a lot of illegals.

  3. mantis says:

    Oh noes! They’re on to us!

  4. Steven Donegal says:

    Can we donate to build a fence to separate Arizona from the rest of the country? That would be more worthwhile.

  5. hey norm says:

    Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! No – er – wait – um – Govenor Brewer, build up that wall!!!
    Once again we prove that the folks with tea-bags dangling from their hats have moved so far to the extreme that they would not elect Reagan, that flaming liberal, today.

  6. anjin-san says:

    What was it George Patron said? Oh, yea…”Fixed fortifications are a monument to human stupidity”.

  7. tom p says:

    As for the failed kleptocratic, socialist government of Mexico,

    Never been to Mexico, have you JKB? It is a Capitalists Paradise where everything from your local judge to the resident Federale is for sale! (and taxes are even lower than they are here) and no Union Thugs allowed. And…. I could go on but you would still call it “socialist”.

  8. Franklin says:

    You know how you can have it built on the cheap? Hire a lot of illegals.

    Well I, for one, chuckled at this.

  9. Southern Hoosier says:

    Border fence funds pulled at request of lawmakers
    By GARY MARTIN Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
    Oct. 8, 2009, 11:42PM

    WASHINGTON — A provision to build an additional 300 miles of pedestrian fence along the U.S.-Mexico border has been stripped out of a $42.8 billion spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

    The DeMint provision would have required that all 700 miles of barriers authorized by Congress in 2006 to be pedestrian fence, eliminating vehicle barriers and virtual fences. It called for the pedestrian fence to be completed by Dec. 31, 2010.

    Thank you Comrade President.

  10. anjin-san says:

    George Patron said?

    Sorry, the quote is from George Patton.

  11. Barb Hartwell says:

    Why don`t they get on fox news and get all the Teabaggers together and take it out of their pockets, maybe some of their rich friends could help too. Maybe they want them out, because of fear. It certainly is not because they want our jobs THERE ARE NONE, and it can not be health-care GOOD- LUCK THERE, Education, UM, SORRY, I know- MOST OF THEIR FRIENDS LIVE HERE. Should have built that fence a long time ago Amigo

  12. Ernieyeball says:

    I think the State of Arizona should put Support our Fence collection cans next to the cash registers at all the 7-11s.
    This voluntary tax might just reveal an honest level of support for the project.