As the battle over border wall money continues in Washington, an online fundraising group is working to take matters into its own hands. The “We The People Will Build the Wall” campaign has already raised over $20 million from 350,000 donations.
Members of the group even spent time last week in South Texas scoping out potential construction sites. How likely s a crowd-funded border wall, and is it legal? Nomaan Merchant covers immigration and the border for the Associated Press in Houston.
Before the government shutdown began in December, Air Force veteran and triple amputee, Brian Kolfage, created a GoFundMe account that was originally intended to collect donations for the U.S. government, because Congress wasn’t funding the wall. Supporters of President Donald Trump decided to donate, hoping to bolster his cause.
It eventually became clear that there wasn’t a mechanism by which the U.S. government could accept this money. Now, Kolfage and a number of other supporters of this effort have created a new nonprofit, WeBuildtheWall Inc., that they say will actually build segments of the wall, themselves.
“Whether that could actually happen remains to be seen,” Merchant says. “In theory anybody can build just about anything on their own private land, but this is the border and there are a lot of complications at play.”
There are environmental restrictions that would prevent the group from starting construction. Including the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. Merchant also says that there is a lot of concern about exacerbating flooding, both on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande and the Mexican side.
“They claim to have President Trump’s blessing,” Merchant says. “The president, to my knowledge, has not tweeted about it. He has not said anything publicly and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.”
Written by Morgan Kuehler.