Arizona is taking on immigration once again, with lawmakers collecting donations from the public to put a fence along every inch of the state’s border with Mexico. It is an unprecedented effort by a state that is the busiest U.S. gateway for both illegal immigrants and marijuana.
The idea came from state Senator Steve Smith, a Republican who says people from across the nation have donated about $255,000 to the project since the state in July launched a website that urges visitors to “show the world the resolve and the can-do spirit of the American people.”
Smith acknowledges he has a long way to go. The $255,000 will barely cover a half mile of fencing. Smith estimates that the total supplies alone will cost $34 million, or about $426,000 a mile.
The fence is Arizona’s latest attempt to force a debate on whether the U.S. government is doing enough to stop illegal immigration. A judge suspended key provisions of the state’s contentious immigration bill, and Gov. Jan Brewer is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to get them reinstated. Brewer also signed the fencing bill.