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New border fence: Arizona plans its own 200-mile fence

New border fence?  Arizona legislators are trying to raise money for a new border fence with Mexico. They hope to start construction by year end.

By StaffAssociated Press / August 27, 2012

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, center, tours the U.S.-Mexico border with U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Coronado National Forest near Nogales, Ariz. in 2011. Some Arizona legislators would like to build a new border fence, in addition to the federal fencing, along the border.

(AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow/File)

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Phoenix

Members of the Arizona Legislature's border security advisory committee want the state to begin building a mile of fencing along the border with Mexico even though it has raised only a fraction of the needed money.

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The committee has raised just 10 percent of the $2.8 million needed to complete a mile of fencing. The ultimate goal is to build 200 miles of border fencing.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, tells the Arizona Republic he believes more private donations will come in once construction begins.

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Construction could begin by the end of the year using private fencing companies, some donated supplies and prison inmate labor, Smith said. The project is meant to complement the federal government's border fencing program.

The Legislature created the committee in 2010 and tasked it with making recommendations to the governor about how to handle the border, and the fence project is one of its key goals. Members include Republican state lawmakers, county sheriffs and state department heads.

Despite the committee being charged with making security recommendations, none have been made since it began meeting in March 2011.

"I don't think we have enough info to make a recommendation," said co-chairman Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma. "There's so much technology that's important given the challenging terrain."

The committee also has failed to meet state law requirements that it file monthly status reports, and it hasn't met since April.

In November 2011 the committee submitted its first and only report to the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president, detailing the prior nine months of meetings.

Jones said they are looking into revising the law requiring monthly reports.

"Reporting once a month becomes cumbersome," he said. "We don't have enough new information to go through the bureaucracy."

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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