A new law, which went into effect on Wednesday, allows those who support increased security on Arizona's border with Mexico to help pay for the construction of a longer, more effective fence.
Sen. Steve Smith (R), sponsor and author of Senate Bill 1406, posted a letter on www.buildtheborderfence.com, asking for help from all Americans, and gives plenty of reasons why they should donate to The Border Security Trust Fund.
“One of the gravest threats facing America today,” he writes, “is the lack of security and enforcement along the U.S. and Mexican border. The consequences of this lack of security have yielded an unparalleled invasion of drug cartels, violent gangs, an estimated 20 million illegal aliens, and even terrorists.”
He complains that only 685 miles of a nearly 2,000 mile American-Mexican border is fenced, and he writes that many of those areas aren't effective at keeping illegal immigrants out of the country. Arizona's southern border is about 370 miles, or just under a fifth, of the United States' border with Mexico.
All of the funds raised will go directly to the initiative, and the construction and maintenance of the border fence will be overseen by the Joint Border Security Advisory Committee. Smith is on the committee, and he hopes to see $50 million dollars raised for the project.
Though donations to the state aren't considered to be donations to a nonprofit organization, a letter from the state comptroller says that the state “is a qualifying organization for the purpose of charitable contributions.”
“Although it is not the function of the State to give legal or tax advice,” he says, “a donation made to the State of Arizona to support a public purpose may qualify as a deduction in determining the donor's Federal and Arizona taxable income. Donors should consult with their legal and/or tax advisors for guidance concerning the deductibility of their contributions.”
Arizona Senator Al Melvin (R) says one way that they can cut costs on the construction of the wall is by using inmate labor to build it.
Another issue that surrounds the fence's construction is where it will be placed. Along Arizona's border are private properties, federal lands and Indian reservations. Smith says that he hopes the federal government will give the state a pass to construct wherever they need to.
"Let's hope the federal government will allow us to do it," he said. "But if they say no, we have a contingency." Some private land owners near the border have given permission for the state to build the fence on their properties, even if some of them are a few miles away from the actual border.
Not everyone is on board with fencing up the state's border, however. Some feel that the money could be better spent on other projects. Others, like the Sierra Club, are afraid of the environmental impact that building a wall could have, citing potential flood risks and the blocking of wildlife movements.
Smith says that in an effort to keep citizens updated on their progress, there may eventually be a running tally posted on the website that will show the amount of total money donated to the cause.
“It is at this time in our country's history that you can do your part to help make America safe for future generations,” he writes. “We as a nation can once again show the world the resolve and the can-do spirit of the American people.”