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Begging just might work: A new website will accept donations for the border fence

When all else fails—beg. Those wise words are emblazoned on one of my refrigerator magnets to remind of the successful tactic. Granted, the magnet is in the shape of a bone, as the tactic works best for dogs, but the Arizona state government is also giving it a whirl.

To raise funds to help build a border fence, a new donation website is set to launch on July 20. With the click of a mouse, folks from around the globe will be able to send money our way to help pay for the construction of more fencing along Arizona's stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Since the federal government doesn't give Arizona much help with the immigration issue, a fact exemplified by the deflation of good ol' SB 1070, state lawmakers decided once again to attempt to do something on their own with SB 1406.

The fence legislation, introduced by Maricopa Republican state Sen. Steve Smith, was approved in April, giving an a-OK to build additional fencing using donated funds and inmate labor. Inmates will be paid 50 cents per hour, along with the priceless dose of fresh desert air that comes with the job.

To spur folks to donate online, one of the proposed incentives is a contributor certificate that will proclaim something like: "I helped build the Arizona fence"—although T-shirts would be much more fun.

The begging just might work. After all, there was enough worldwide hoopla about SB 1070 to get a German television station to sit in on the Pima County Sheriff Department's deputy training for the then-upcoming legal changes. And people have already donated several million dollars through a website portal to support the legal defense of SB 1070. Maybe the fence T-shirts can come with German translations.

Once the fence-legislation money is in place, the other bothersome details can be worked out. They include what materials to use to build the fence, how much the materials will cost, and where to begin construction. Smith says to start with the Tucson sector.

Some type of fencing currently stands along 650 miles of the full 2,000 miles of border, with most of the fencing in Arizona. Other border states will also have the chance to hop on the beg-for-fence-money bandwagon once the money ball gets rolling.

Raising donations to fund fence construction seems like it should make sense to everyone. First off, the fence donations will be labeled as such, unlike other donations that rely on trickery. Utility companies have become enamored with such a ruse, adding little "check here" boxes above the bill's total to get you to inadvertently pay for your neighbors' heat, light and water use.

Secondly, the funds are not coming from "hard-earned taxes" or being wrenched from folks who don't support the concept of a fence—or even the concept of defending our borders. Those who like the idea can give money; those who don't can instead donate to their neighbors' utility bills.

But some have already been complaining.

Border Action Network executive director Jennifer Allen is quoted in a May KGUN Channel 9 article with her two cents: "Clearly this is a political gesture of Arizona policymakers trying to sound tough and act tough," she says, "but yet committing our state to yet another scheme that is embarrassing and yet another financial disaster."

She also notes Arizona has "some real needs," such as health care and education.

Despite the insinuation that border fencing is not a "real need," she's on the mark in noting that Arizona has other issues that could use attention—and some cash.

Perhaps that funding, too, can come from similar sites that accept donations for other issues. Clicking to send money, of course, is most fun at online shoe stores, but clicking can get addictive. Once folks get into the groove of the click, they could certainly be up for clicking to fund a variety of needs.

Click here to restore the five-day school week. Click here for the indigent prescription-drug fund. Click here to buy text books published after 1973. Click here to fund emergency services for those dehydrated or stabbed while crossing unsecured borders.

Please note the latter will be null and void if the new border-fence donation site takes off. But people will hopefully always have the chance to click to send cash for their neighbors' utilities.

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