They Didn't Raise $1B. They Are Building a Wall Anyway

Short section going up on private land in New Mexico
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2019 8:02 AM CDT
They Didn't Raise $1B. They Are Building a Wall Anyway
In a May 24, 2019 photo, a construction worker watches a section of fencing be moved for a privately-funded border fence on private land in Sunland Park, New Mexico.   (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

In December, a "We the People Will Build the Wall" campaign launched on GoFundMe with a $1 billion goal. It didn't raise anywhere close to that, but roughly a third of the nearly $22 million a nonprofit subsequently ended up getting is now being used to build a contentious stretch of border fence in New Mexico. "Buckle up, we're just getting started!" the We Build the Wall group posted on Facebook on Memorial Day, one of a number of social media posts announcing that construction had started. The latest:

  • The plan: CNN was at the scene on Monday, observing construction equipment at work. The group says it plans to build a section of wall that will measure about half a mile but will connect two 21-mile portions of fencing already in place. CNN couldn't confirm that's what will in fact happen. The El Paso Times reports the fencing is 20 feet high and is set 7 feet in the ground.
  • The land: The New York Times reports the wall section is going up near El Paso in Sunland Park, on land the American Eagle Brick Company owns. Fisher Industries of North Dakota is handling the construction.

  • The big names: There are two in this case: Kris Kobach is the group's general counsel; he served as the Kansas secretary of state and hasn't been shy about his hard-line stance on immigration. The other is Steve Bannon, who chairs the group's advisory board.
  • The impact, according to Kobach: "I would argue that this half-mile [of wall] is much more important than building 20 or 50 miles out in the desert, because of very few people are crossing in the middle of the desert," Kobach tells the El Paso Times. "But here, you are this metropolitan area and it's so easy for people to swarm through this gap. This half-mile area has much more of an impact than you would think."
  • The impact, according to Bannon: "Border Patrol told us it's the No. 1 most important mile to close. The tough terrain always left it off the government list," he tells CNN.
  • A more skeptical view: From the New York Times: "The wall’s effectiveness and legality, though, are in doubt. The stretch of wall could simply push migrant families toward crossings in more remote areas, as other portions of border fencing have done."
  • Sunland Park's reaction: A rep for the city on Tuesday said a cease-and-desist letter was being issued to the group, which the rep said had not secured the necessary permits. Kobach told the Texas Tribune the group had gone through the permitting process and that "official inspectors" came to the site prior to the start of construction. The rep countered that site inspectors were denied access twice last week and that their permit information wasn't complete when it was submitted. The Washington Post adds that the city doesn't allow barriers taller than 6 feet.
  • The effect: ...may be minimal. Kobach said the group hoped to have the wall done by Wednesday. Brian Kolfage, who started the We Build the Wall campaign, on Tuesday wrote on Facebook, "it’s 99% done anyway suckers!!"
(Read more border wall stories.)

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