TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - SB 1070 thrust the immigration issue into the national spotlight, and now some Arizona lawmakers are capitalizing on the attention by asking people across the country to help solve the state's problems at the border.
To date, people nationwide have donated $3.7 million dollars to Governor Jan Brewer's legal defense fund; legislators like State Senator Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) plan to bank on that same spirit, by soliciting donations to build a fence across Arizona's border. Brewer signed SB 1406 weeks ago, paving the way for the Joint Border Security Advisory Committee to plan launching an online site.
"I've gotten emails. I've gotten phone calls. Everywhere I go, people say, ‘How do I donate? Can I be first? What's the way to start?'" said Smith, who sponsored the bill and is on the committee. "We will decide what the best type of fence is and where we are going to start. For me, it's certainly going to be the Tucson sector."
Organizers are still working on the website, which Smith expects to be unveiled by the end of May. Once the committee receives enough contributions, they plan to start the plan for constructing the fence with inmate labor: prisoners will work for 50 cents an hour.
"Inmate labor has proven to be very effective in many areas of construction. They actually helped build a fence out in the Douglas area," Smith said.
However, critics such as Jennifer Allen, executive director of the Border Action Network, believe lawmakers could better dedicate their time and energy to issues like education or healthcare.
"Arizona has some real needs and lawmakers trying to launch a website under the jurisdiction of the federal government is just a waste of time," Allen said. "Clearly this is a political gesture of Arizona policymakers trying to sound tough and act tough, but yet committing our state to yet another scheme that is embarrassing and yet another financial disaster."
Proponents of the plan say they are helping to solve an immigration problem that the federal government has largely ignored, forcing the state to be proactive in finding a solution. Part of the incentive, Smith said, will be certificates for contributors that say something along the lines of "I helped build the Arizona fence."
Smith said they do not yet know how much money is needed to start building the site.
The Department of Homeland security would not comment on this legislation, but organizers say there is an interstate clause included to the bill that would allow other border states to join the same movement, allowing it to be on part with federal law.
In: Regional News
Tags: Arizona, Solicit, Online, Donations, Border, Fence, Governor, Jan, Brewer, SB 1406,
Location: Arizona, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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