Newly launched fence fund discussed in border security meetingPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - The Joint Border Security Committee met at the Capital, this time met by three Arizona sheriff’s to discuss recent issues along the border.
“When the federal government fails in their responsibility to protect their citizens it becomes the state's responsibility,” said Republican State Senator Gail Griffin.
That belief is the reason why this committee, devoted to examining security along the state's border with Mexico, meets monthly.
“Arizona has to lead,” said Republican State Senator Steve Smith. “It's our immediate problem and the rest of country's filter problem.”
Lawmakers launched the fundraising website www.buildtheborderfence.com.
“In the first 24 hours of site launching we had donations from all 50 states in country,” said Republican State Senator Steve Smith. “It really shows this is America’s problem not Arizona’s problem.”
That website raised more than $100,000 in its first three days. The goal of the fence project is to close gaps and reinforce weaker areas exploited by smugglers and illegal immigrants.
But representatives from the Pinal County Sheriff's office say they have more immediate needs. “If I were to say what one of the biggest problems are that we have, logistically it is lack of air assets,” said Pinal County Chief Deputy Steve Henry.
The problem is one state legislators like Republican State Senator Al Melvin were unaware of. “I knew we had a couple helicopters in highway patrol but didn't know we didn't have funds to operate them.”
It's something the senator says will be addressed in the next legislative session. Budgets are tight and needs are great.
So until the state budget situation improves there are some lawmakers that believe more fundraising websites could be the answer.
Senator Melvin says, “If all else fails we'll start another website to solicit private donations. We'll do it whatever it takes.”