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The Arizona Legislature wanted to build a border fence. Here’s where the money went

Posted by   /  March 5, 2018  /  No Comments

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The first fence: A border fence between the United States and Mexico starts about 15 miles inland from the mouth of the Rio Grande in Texas. /Emmanuel Lozano/USA TODAY NETWORK

By Rafael Carranza | The Republic

Long before President Donald Trump promised to build a wall on the southwest border and make Mexico pay for it, Arizona lawmakers invited private donors to fund fencing for the state’s 372-mile-long border with Mexico.

Some predicted the state could raise as much as $50 million. But after an initially flurry of donations, the fund that lawmakers established in 2011 closed last year having accumulated less than $270,000.

Related: A 2,000-mile journey in the shadow of the border wall

It’s pocket change in the context of a massive infrastructure project.

For example, construction to replace 7.5 miles of landing-mat fencing with bollard-style designs in Naco last year cost U.S. taxpayers $35 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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So legislators instead allowed Arizona’s four border county sheriffs to bid for the funds to use for enforcement along the border.

Cochise County was the sole bidder and has used the money for a “virtual fence.”

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