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Arizona legislators give up on idea of privately funded border fence

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A faltering project backed by Arizona legislators to construct privately funded fencing on the border with Mexico has officially seen its final days.

State lawmakers will decide Monday what to do with the $265,000 that was collected for the nearly five- year-old plan.

Republican backers of the 2011 legislation hoped to collect as much as $50 million in donations for the project.

The plan pushed by Rep. Steve Smith was meant to build a 15-foot fence at busy, yet-to-be-determined border-crossing points, then erecting fences along miles of the state’s 375-mile border that have no federal fences.

Then-Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill in 2011 to begin the project. A website was set up to begin handling donations but moving forward proved difficult. The plan stalled continually in its fundraising efforts.

Lawmakers, sheriff’s and state department heads who serve on the Legislature’s border security advisory committee will hear spending proposals for the money.

Sheriffs in Cochise, Pima, Yuma and Santa Cruz county have been asked to present plans for fencing or technology using the cash.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said while he appreciated the offer, his office would pass because it was one-time money and there wasn’t enough cash to have an effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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