Arizona border fence to be built with private money
Jul 20, 2011, 20:35 GMT
Washington - Arizona has again taken its festering border issue into its own hands, opening a website on Wednesday that allows private citizens to donate to the building of a fence to stop illegal crossings from Mexico.
The move is another expression of Arizona's frustration that the federal government is not doing enough to control the flow of illegal immigrants in the border state.
Last year, the state legislature empowered police officers to stop suspected illegals and demand identification. That provision was blocked in federal court on the grounds that it violated protections against discrimination and racial profiling.
As the first state to contemplate its own border fence, Arizona is treading on a domain normally under the control of the federal government.
'We have to do the job because the federal government isn't doing it. And Arizona can't do it,' State Senator Steve Smith was quoted as saying by the Arizona Republic newspaper.
The state aims to raise at least 50 million dollars from private donors across the country to finish the fence along its 600-kilometre border with Mexico. About a third of that has already been built, mostly with federal money.
The website, buildtheborderfence.com, notes that the lack of enforcement along the border has allowed 'an unparalleled invasion of drug cartels, violent gangs, an estimated 20 million illegal aliens and even terrorists.'
Arizona prison inmate labour was to be used to contain the costs of fence building, the website said.
The US and Mexico share a 3,200-kilometre border. Less than a third of that is fenced on the US side, sometimes only with barbed-wire and vehicle barriers that do not stop foot traffic.
Among the tens of thousands of illegal aliens detained by federal agents along the border in recent years have been very small numbers of immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan.
In 2005, then-FBI director Robert Mueller warned Congress that some people from countries with al-Qaeda connections were changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and 'obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic.'