Arizona Lawmaker Reviving Plans For Controversial Border Fence

Arizona state Senator Steve Smith talks with supporters at a fundraiser for a private border fence at Tommy's Bistro in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Devin Browne
By John Rosman
April 03, 2013

Arizona State Sen. Steve Smith says in the coming weeks a plan to build Arizona’s controversial border fence will be unveiled.

In 2011, Smith sponsored a bill allowing the state use inmate labor and private donations to build a border fence on private and government land.

We profiled Smith in 2011, when he was kicking off his fundraising tour for the fence:

"Here's the biggest issue in everything related to the border: If we truly wanted to secure the border, we could,” Smith said. “The problem is, we don't.”

 Smith, on the other hand, does.

To this end, he recently announced the web headquarters for his fundraising campaign: His first goal is $50 million.

In the first 17 hours the site raised more than $39,000. But in the subsequent years, donations have dried up. As of April 3, 2013 the site has raised a little more than $193,000 — quite short of its original goal.

But as Stateline reports, an undeterred Smith says plans are underway to build the fence, just in time for the political discussion of immigration reform.

State Sen. Steve Smith, a Republican, said the plan will be disclosed after a legal review is complete. “We have a strategy in place. We have a contractor in place. We have a provider in place,” he said.

The idea is to plug the gaps that Smith and other Arizona officials see with the federal government’s border fence along the state’s 370-mile border with Mexico.

Smith declined to say what agency was conducting the legal review.

But the same logistical questions in 2011 still remain today. Where would this fence go?

Smith said the proposal will likely be available in the next several weeks.