AZ border meeting sidesteps fence construction - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

AZ border meeting sidesteps fence construction

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A plan by Arizona lawmakers to use private money to build a mile-long fence along the border with Mexico was tabled at a special meeting in Phoenix Tuesday.  

The legislature's Border and Security Advisory Committee met for the first time in more than a year. Lawmakers have only been able to raise about $246,000 of the $2.8 million needed just to build the first mile. Lawmakers at first wanted to build 200 miles of fencing.

The committee can't get all its members together to discuss the topic and decide if that's the best route to take with the privately raised donations.

Rep. Steve Smith, who is spearheading the project, wants the general public to know - don't mistake that for the project being dead.

"As soon as we get the green light from the committee, absolutely we want to run again," Smith said. "If it were up to me, if it were my project, this would have been done two years ago but it isn't. It's in the committee where it belongs."

Smith said they just need the full committee present to pass the recommendations.

The privately-raised funds on nearly $300,000 remains in an account with the state treasury that's set aside for the project. 

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) urged members to support the idea of spending that money on hiring extra help for Child Protective Services as that agency struggles to review and respond to thousands of backlogged reports.

"The Border Security committee is just sitting on $264,000 and they have been for months," Campbell said. "As expected, it is nowhere near enough to build a border fence. But it is enough to help increase the number of people right now working at CPS to bring security to children who live a daily struggle with abuse and neglect." 

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

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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