After crowd-sourcing more than $20 million for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a group known as We Build the Wall appears to have begun fulfilling its promises to investors; the group claimed to have erected a half-mile-long barrier of metal slats in the El Paso, Texas area over the weekend.
“WE DID IT!!! First privately funded wall is nearly complete!” the group declared.
Organizers for the group on Monday told the Washington Times the goal was to seal the gap between two existing barriers. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, general counsel for We Build the Wall, would add that the group was “closing a gap that’s been a big headache for [border patrol].”
Footage of the first piece of the FIRST privately funded wall GOING UP!
Posted by We Build The Wall Inc on Monday, May 27, 2019
We Build the Wall was originally formed by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, and soon gained the backing of Trump acolytes Kobach and Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist. Bannon serves as We Build the Wall’s director.
We Build the Wall came under increased scrutiny in recent days after collecting the large sum of money back in January and failing to produce any evidence of progress on the wall project. The unexpected announcement of the new border barrier is a stark reversal from more recent headlines about the group, many of which questioned how the money was being spent. Other stories focused on newfound skepticism of those who gave money to We Build the Wall. Some sought refunds on their donations.
The online fundraising site GoFundMe even announced in January that it would be offering refunds to We Build the Wall donors, stating that Kolfage had changed the terms of donation after initially promising to refund all donations if the group failed to meet its goal of raising $1 billion.
We Build the Wall mostly stayed mum about the location of the construction site–they said–so that political opponents wouldn’t be able to “derail our progress.”
“VERY soon we can release the details but have to keep that information secure for the time being as to prevent giving our detractors a heads up to derail our progress,” the group said. “Soon, everyone will have the update they’ve been waiting for which we can’t wait to share. This updated delay is just the unfortunate process of building a controversial barrier some people don’t want to happen.”
Kolfage had said that construction would begin in early April, but there was no evidence of that prior to now.
Bannon, who was in Kazakhstan over the weekend, told Yahoo News that work on the “surprise” barrier began Friday evening under the supervision of construction mogul Thomas Fisher of Fisher Industries in North Dakota, and cost approximately $6 million to complete.
The group reportedly chose the location of the wall after asking local authorities to pinpoint “where the cartel and asylum seekers are coming in,” and purchased the rights to the land before construction began.
Kobach announced that We Build the Wall already has plans in the works to break ground on a second private wall venture.
“We’ll keep on building as long as people keep chipping in. The average contribution has been only $67 but so many people have chipped in,” Kobach said in an interview with Fox News on Monday.
[Image via Yahoo News/screengrab]