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CNN: A private group says it’s started building its own border wall using millions donated in GoFundMe campaign

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Sunland Park, New Mexico (CNN)A group that raised millions of dollars in a GoFundMe campaign says it has broken ground on a project to build its own stretch of border wall on private property.

We Build the Wall, a group founded by a triple amputee Air Force veteran, said in a series of social media posts on Monday that it had started construction on private property in New Mexico. The announcement comes months after the group began its GoFundMe campaign to raise private donations for a border wall, and days after a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump from tapping into billions in Defense Department funds for his administration’s wall construction efforts.
“Buckle up, we’re just getting started!” the group wrote in a Facebook post, sharing what it said were images of construction over the weekend.
On Monday evening, a CNN team watched as heavy machinery rumbled over the site near the New Mexico-Texas state line near El Paso. Kris Kobach, former Kansas secretary of state and longtime immigration hardliner, spoke to CNN over the clanking and beeping of construction equipment.
“It’s amazing to me how crowdfunding can successfully raise a lot of money, and how many Americans care about this,” said Kobach, who’s now general counsel for We Build the Wall.
A half-mile stretch of wall on the site is nearly finished, Kobach said, costing an estimated $6 million to $8 million to build. The main contractor working at the site: Fisher Industries, a North Dakota-based company that President Trump has been aggressively advocating should be awarded government contracts to build the border wall, The Washington Post reported last week.
Word of the private wall’s construction is likely to rile opponents of efforts to build up barriers at the US southern border, while energizing supporters of Trump and one of his most oft-repeated campaign promises.

Filling a ‘gap that needed to be filled’

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who chairs We Build the Wall’s advisory board, told CNN on Monday that the stretch of private wall connects two 21-mile sections of existing fencing.
CNN was not able to independently confirm that the new wall connects the two portions of border fencing constructed by the federal government.
CNN observed construction crews working in an area of the US-Mexico border near the New Mexico-Texas state line with heavy machinery on Monday.

“Border Patrol told us it’s the No. 1 most important miles to close. The tough terrain always left it off the government list,” Bannon said. “And that’s what we focus on — private land that is not in the program and take the toughest first.”
CNN has reached out to US Customs and Border Protection for comment.
Kobach described the area as a “gap that needed to be filled” to put a stop to drug and human smuggling.
“The whole idea is we want to supplement and complement what the federal government is doing,” Kobach said. “We can complement it by closing the gap and making that wall in El Paso that much more effective.”

‘They moved very quickly’

Jeff Allen told CNN he owns the property where We Build the Wall’s team is working, and he’s excited to see it.
“They are doing an incredible job,” he said. “I have fought illegals on this property for six years. I love my country and this is a step in protecting my country.”
Daniel Garcia Salinas, the director of a nearby museum on the Mexican side of the border, told CNN the new wall went up rapidly over the weekend, changing the horizon behind the Museo Casa de Adobe.
Garcia said that when he had left the museum Friday afternoon there was no fencing there. By Saturday morning, he said, portions of new wall had been constructed.
“They moved very quickly,” he said.
Daniel Garcia Salinas says the new wall went up rapidly behind the museum he directs nearby on the Mexican side of the border. "They moved very quickly," he said.

Leaders of We Build the Wall offered different assessments of how much construction had occurred.
While Bannon told CNN a mile of new wall had been built, Kobach said a half-mile had been constructed.
Kobach declined to specify which areas the group is considering for future construction, but said a site in Texas and a site in California are currently next on the list.

More than $20 million in donations

We Build the Wall’s fundraising efforts began in December. At the time, founder Brian Kolfage told CNN he’d decided to move forward because of “inaction from our politicians.”
The ongoing campaign has raked in more than $20 million in donations on GoFundMe. The average donation was $67, Kobach said, and more than 300,000 people contributed.
Recent reports detailed how some donors questioned why they hadn’t seen any construction despite the millions donated, but organizers said they had to keep plans secret to protect the project.
“Remember powerful people want to stop our progress, so to not tip anyone off we are radio silent!” Kolfage wrote in a Facebook post shared by the group earlier this month. “The (American Civil Liberties Union) would file a lawsuit to impede our wall success if they knew where and when.”
On Monday, Kolfage and other supporters of the organization were trumpeting their efforts on social media.
“All the haters said it was impossible!!” Kolfage wrote on Twitter. “Bahaha where ya at now?”
This story has been updated.
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We Build the Wall Builds First Half-Mile Section of Border Wall in New Mexico – in Four Days

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TENNESSEE STAR: The group We Build the Wall announced Monday it has completed construction of a large section of wall spanning between a half-mile and a mile along an open area of the Southern border previously believed to be unbuildable.

According to a story by The Washington Times, the wall section is along the southern border in New Mexico, and the organization says that is a first in the history of the border.

The wall is made of 18-foot steel bollard like what the Border Patrol uses, the Times said.

Just late last week, a federal judge ordered a halt to part of President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration and shifting of money within the Pentagon to make up for Congress’s refusal to fund the wall, the Timessaid.

The new section closes a gap that was between the end of the El Paso, Texas border wall and Mount Cristo Rey, across from the City of Juarez, The Gateway Pundit said.

Kris Kobach (pictured with builder Tommy Fisher, right) of We Build the Wall spoke to the Pundit about the former gap.

“The gap is a half mile wide corridor and it’s literally a parking lot on the Mexican side and then you walk five steps and you are in the parking lot on the American side. There’s no barbed wire. There’s not ANY barrier. You just walk from one parking lot to the other.”

In the past, groups over a hundred in size on a typical evening would often come through this particular corridor. And while the border patrol is dealing with all the people down at the bottom of the gap in the flat area the cartels would be sending drugs up on the side of the mountain with no border control interference at all.

Brian Kolfage, who inspired the creation of We Build the Walltold the Daily Mail that the new wall section was a mile long, a different measurement than some media outlets reported.

The new section of wall is on private property where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously said it would not be possible to build – a belief Kolfage and his team took as a challenge along with builder Tommy Fisher, owner of Fisher Sand and Gravel (pictured with Kris Kobach, left).

Fisher made news earlier this year what he made an unsolicited bid to the Trump Administration to use his unique process to construct what he called “a complete border security system.”

Embedded video

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co.@FisherSandG

When no one else can or wants to do it, we step in. Putting our moto “We Like The Tough Jobs” to use again! @DHSgov @CBP @realDonaldTrump @SenKevinCramer @SenJohnHoeven @BrianKolfage @KrisKobach1787

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Kolfage said his group will sell the wall to the federal government for $1. His cost was between $6 million to $8 million.

Kolfage tweeted, “We built up a mountain where the @USArmy Corps of Engineers said it was impossible to build! NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!”

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Brian Kolfage@BrianKolfage

We built up a mountain where the @USArmy Corps of Engineers said it was impossible to build! NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! @DonaldJTrumpJr @DRUDGE @MorningsMaria @RyanAFournier @RealJamesWoods @DeplorableChoir @BreitbartNews @BuzzFeed @LouDobbs @TrumpStudents @BreitbartNews

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Kolfage also tweeted video of the wall’s construction: “The people’s wall is unveiled! The first segment is nearly complete!! DONATE NOW to help fund more walls! http://www.gofundme.com/thetrumpwall ”.

Embedded video

Brian Kolfage@BrianKolfage

The people’s wall is unveiled! The first segment is nearly complete!! DONATE NOW to help fund more walls! http://www.gofundme.com/thetrumpwall @DRUDGE @RealJamesWoods @RyanAFournier @BreitbartNews @DiamondandSilk @DonaldJTrumpJr @DeplorableChoir @LouDobbs @JudgeJeanine @DustinStockton

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The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has talked about the construction of a new wall at the border, Breitbart said last week, adding that 38 miles as of March 21 have been built.

In a statement provided to Breitbart News two months ago, a CBP spokesperson said the 38 miles of newly constructed wall system “provides new capability by replacing ineffective or dilapidated infrastructure, such as Normandy-style barriers designed only to stop vehicles, not people on foot.”

The majority of the border has remained open as the Department of Homeland Security replaces existing fencing rather than expanding barriers.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
All photos courtesy of We Build the Wall.

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