CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Arizona launched a fundraising website Wednesday to build fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, a newly authorized project that supporters said is needed to close gaps exploited by smugglers and illegal immigrants.
“Arizona once again has to do the job the federal government isn’t,” said state Sen. Steve Smith, a first-term Republican who sponsored the legislation authorizing the fence project.
Smith, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, state Attorney General Tom Horne, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other supporters gathered Wednesday evening in a restaurant in Smith’s legislative district to kick off the fundraising campaign.
The public will back the effort, Pearce predicted.
“I know where America stands,” Pearce said. “We have a nation at risk. And why are we going to build a fence? Because you’ll never get it built by the federal government.”
The website, buildtheborderfence.com, received 884 online donations totaling $39,085 within its first 17 hours, said Arizona Senate spokesman Mike Philipsen.
Initial online donations ranged from the minimum of $5 to “dozens in the $250 to $500 range,” Philipsen said. Contributions also can be mailed.
Smith said during a Tuesday interview that his initial goal is to raise $50 million.
“It’s not my end goal,” he said. “If we can raise $50 million, we’re off to a fabulous start.”