Earlier this year, I reported that a bill was moving around the Arizona legislature what would allow Arizona to build its own border fence without the help of the federal government. Last last month, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed the bill into law. Now, it’s sponsor “is counting on the generosity of Americans” to pay for it. Reuters reports:
“Unfortunately, the state is broke and quite frankly we can’t take on this massive project by ourselves,” says the senator who sponsored the legislation. His initial goal is to raise $50 million in donations. “That would be a good, healthy start.”
If the federal government won’t finish its fence along Arizona’s roughly 370 miles of border then the state will, the Republican says. He and his allies are still trying to figure out the cost of the fence and what it might look like.The senator’s goal is to build a contiguous, solid fence “and have the entire border completely and properly secured.”
Federal estimates put the cost of building a mile of solid border fence at $3 million but Smith says the state will rely on inmate labor and donated supplies to keep costs down.
Yet, there’s a reason why the federal government hasn’t finished the border wall. A 2009 GAO report found that the U.S. spent $2.4 billion since 2005 to erect the unfinished 600 miles of new fence along the US-Mexico border. It’ll cost $6.5 billion to maintain over the next 20 years and push most border crossers to more remote and dangerous areas which makes the human smuggling business even more lucrative. Meanwhile, the border wall has served more as a speed bump than a roadblock as migrants and smugglers have always found new and creative ways to get over, through, and around it.
At a Senate hearing on border security in April, El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar warned that “vilifying immigrants, building expensive, ugly walls, and encouraging hysteria and xenophobia only hurts our border communities, our commerce and the economy of the nation.” Rather than spending money on what Escobar describes as “a rusting monument that makes my community look like a junkyard,” she is hoping for money from the Merida Initiative, comprehensive immigration reform, and better technology and equipment for the international ports of entry.
People are free to waste their money on whatever they want, but Arizona probably won’t be able to turn around and use those donations to build its own fence. The Constitution gives the federal government supreme authority “in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation.”