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Now, Arizona wants donations to build its own fence on Mexico border

A year ago, Arizona asked for donations to defend its immigration law in court. On July 20, fundraising began for a fence on the Mexico border. Donations have come from all 50 states.

Two men illegally cross the border fence separating Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, on July 28, 2010. Arizona launched a website July 20, 2011, to accept donations to pay for a more-complete fence along the Mexico border.

Jae C. Hong/AP/File

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For the second time in a year, Americans are being asked to rally to Arizona's anti-illegal immigration efforts.

With the launch of buildtheborderfence.com on July 20, Arizona is trying to raise at least $50 million to build its own border fence. So far, about 2,300 Americans have donated more than $105,000.

This follows on Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to establish a legal fund for the defense of the Arizona's controversial immigration law, Senate Bill 1070, which remains tied up in court. Since May 2010, the fund has raised $3.8 million.

The response adds to Arizona's position as the leading voice among states calling for Washington to toughen its immigration laws and border-interdiction efforts.

"There's obviously a frustration out there," says Mike Philipsen, a spokesman for the Arizona Senate. "In the first day we got multiple donations from every state in the country."

Donors have contributed as little as $5 and as much as $2,000 since the project began, he adds.

The initial response shows that Americans view illegal immigration as a problem whose impact extends well beyond Arizona, adds state Sen. Steve Smith, a Republican from the Phoenix area who sponsored legislation authorizing fundraising for the fence.

"It's America's problem and I think America understands that," he says.

Senator Smith and his allies see the fence as a much-needed remedy to lax border security they say the federal government is unwilling to address. The plan is to build a contiguous border fence along Arizona's roughly 370 miles of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border. The existing international boundary includes tall bollard fences, barbed wire, and vehicle barriers.

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