Panel approves ballot measure to put wall at Arizona border
Feb 16, 2006, 07:03 AM PST
A legislative committee endorsed a proposal Wednesday to ask voters to approve the construction of a wall at the Arizona-Mexico border to keep immigrants from entering the state illegally.

If the proposal clears the Legislature and is approved by voters in November, the wall wouldn't stretch the full length of Arizona's 375-mile border with Mexico, but would be built in spots where radar and other sensor technology couldn't stop the flow of illegal immigrants, said Republican Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, sponsor of the proposal.

"Whatever it takes," said Pearce, the Legislature's staunchest advocate for reducing illegal immigration.

Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point along the country's southern border, serves as a hub for smugglers who transport illegal workers across the country.

The bill cleared its first hurdle at the Legislature on Wednesday in a 8-1 vote by a state House Appropriations Committee.

The costs of building the wall are unknown. The project would be funded by an 8 percent tax on electronic money transfers in and out of Arizona. Many illegal immigrants send money earned in the United States back home through financial wiring services.

No opponents spoke out against the proposal (HCR2037) at the committee hearing.

But last week, Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr said environmentalists oppose the construction of a wall because it would create a barrier for wild animals that normally cross the border.

A border enforcement bill passed by the U.S. House in December includes the building of a fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.