Connect with us

POLITICO: MAGA all-stars visit border to plot private wall project

Published

on

POLITICO: Steve Bannon, Kris Kobach and Erik Prince are among the backers of an improbable effort to start building a border wall without federal funding.

It could have been an outtake from a hard-right reboot of “Ocean’s 11” for the Trump era: a gathering of some of President Donald Trump’s most notorious and outspoken supporters, who descended last week on the Mexican border town of McAllen, Texas.

In what amounted to a kind of #MAGA field trip, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, baseball legend Curt Schilling, and former Sheriff David Clarke convened to discuss a new plan for building a wall along the southern U.S. border. Blackwater founder Erik Prince phoned in from South Africa.

With Congress refusing to pony up the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded for the project, his allies now are plotting to kick things off with private money and private land.

The idea, which began in December as a Florida man’s quixotic online crowdfunding campaign, is becoming something more, well, concrete. Big name Trump supporters like Bannon, a former Trump campaign and White House strategist, have flocked to the project. And they have initiated talks with the Israeli firm that constructed that country’s border fence with Gaza, the group told POLITICO. They expect to hold a town hall in Tucson, Arizona, as soon as Friday and to visit the border in Laredo, Texas, next week.

The new details come as Trump, who reportedly blessed the project in a conversation last month with Kobach, one of the country’s most prominent advocates of restrictionist immigration policies, is expected to renew his demand for a border wall in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Organizers insist they are serious about developing a large-scale infrastructure project, one that could supplement — and trim the cost of — Trump’s proposed federal wall. Whether they can achieve anything close to that remains an open question.

“Look, it’s evolving,” said Bannon, whose involvement in the project has not previously been reported.

“Do we have a billion dollars right now? No. But can we raise one or two hundred million dollars? No doubt about it,” added Bannon, whose compatriots have formed a nonprofit group, We Build the Wall, that grew out of the original crowd-funding campaign.

Still, the endeavor has the air of political theater.

Bannon told POLITICO that his team is studying whether their wall could be constructed from the hemp-based building material hempcrete. “Do you understand the irony of using hempcrete to keep out marijuana?” Bannon said. The group has already entered into a partnership with the Kansas-based America’s Hemp Academy to supply the material if it is ultimately selected for use, according to organizers.

“What these individuals are doing is a great political stunt, but it’s not going to make the country safer,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a Washington-based, pro-immigration advocacy group. Noorani argued that border security resources would be better deployed at ports of entry.

But even Noorani conceded that the private wall scheme had one advantage over Trump’s border wall proposal: It requires the consent of private landowners, rather than government seizure of their land through eminent domain.

Leon Fresco, a former deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, said he was skeptical the effort could make a meaningful dent in migration patterns. He noted that a single mile of border wall could cost millions.

“Twenty million dollars to $30 million is not going to get you very far,” he said. Private wall-building efforts could also run into problems with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, said Fresco, now a partner at the Washington office of Holland & Knight

“They have the right to be skeptics,” said Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee Iraq war veteran who started the online GoFundMe campaign in December. “It’s something that’s never been done, and it’s a very big project, but we’re going to give it our all.”

About two-thirds of the 2,000-mile border, or roughly 1300 miles, is owned privately or by states, according to a 2015 Government Accountability and Oversight report, which did not offer a more detailed breakdown. Bannon said the group has identified roughly 250-400 miles of privately owned land that the project will target.

After consulting with experts, including representative of the Israeli fencing firm Magal Security Systems, the group believes it can build a mile of wall for $1.5 to $2.5 million, excluding the cost of land, Kolfage said.

Organizers said they plan to use traditional political fundraising methods, like direct mail and email campaigns, to get from the $20 million raised so far to the projected multi-billion-dollar cost of constructing hundreds of miles of wall.

The group plans to promote the wall plan at the annual CPAC political gathering, which begins at the end of February. They are also considering following that with a bus tour and more town halls on the border, Kolfage said. From there, actual construction could be only weeks away. “We should be turning dirt on this thing by 1 May, 1 June at the latest, according to our experts,” he said.

Kolfage said he expects the beginning of construction to spur more fundraising, especially if the group can demonstrate competence to potential mega-donors. “Once we break ground, it’s going to open up a whole new can of worms,” he said.

Kobach suggested raising $100 million for over 30 miles of wall could be achievable in the project’s first year.

The former Kansas secretary of state, who served as vice chair of Trump’s abortive and much-maligned voting fraud commission, said he expected to remain in touch with the president and other federal officials about the project. He said the goal was not to replace but to supplement a federal wall-building effort, and to channel pent-up demand for a barrier, which was a signature 2016 Trump campaign promise.

“Oftentimes people will just wait for the government to do it,” Kobach said. “In this case the need is so urgent that they say they want to do it right now.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment about Kobach’s account of his conversation with Trump about the project.

The effort began when Kolfage, an operator of conspiratorially mind right-wing websites, began a GoFundMe site dedicated to raising private donations for the Treasury Department to fund Trump’s proposed border wall.

But that approach quickly came to look like a dead end. Even if citizens donate funds to the Treasury, Congress would still need to approve their use for a wall. So Kolfage and company switched tacks, forming We Build the Wall to fund a private construction effort on private lands.

Behind the scenes, Bannon has lent the project his connections and star power. Bannon got to know Kolfage after Facebook shut down pages the veteran maintained there last year, and Kolfage turned to Bannon for help. Kolfage said he began flying to Washington for meetings about the wall project facilitated by Bannon in late December.

While Bannon’s involvement had been secret, Prince, Kobach, Clarke, Tancredo and Schilling all serve on the nonprofit’s board. Each of them brings colorful credentials to the mix: Prince, the brother of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has performed extensive private security work in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. Clarke, a former sheriff of Milwaukee County known for his signature black cowboy hat, has a reputation for espousing extreme law-and-order views on the conservative media and conference circuit. Tancredo made his name as a five-term Congressman with constant calls for tighter border security. And Schilling has pivoted from a storied major league pitching career to a failed video game start-up to hosting a podcast for Breitbart News.

Last week, the group convened for the first time in Texas.

There, they encountered groups of migrants crossing the border to seek asylum. Tancredo said he was surprised that the migrants were “Completely, totally unconcerned about being confronted by us,” and instead were eager to find the Border Patrol so that they could request asylum.

Organizers also conferred with representatives of Magal Security Systems, which built a border barrier between Israel and the Gaza strip. In the weeks following Trump’s 2016 election, Magal publicly offered itself as a natural candidate to build Trump’s proposed wall. Kolfage said he expects to formalize a consulting deal with the firm this week. Magal did not respond to emails requesting comment.

As it pursues its wall, the group has formed several committees, including on site selection, building and fundraising, Tancredo said.

But the ragtag effort remains relatively informal, he said: “I got the impression nobody had a particular title.”

Facebook Comments

 

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please hover over that comment, click the ∨ icon, and mark it as spam. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Trending Now on We Build the Wall News


Border Patrol Arrests Illegal Convicted Of Child Rape – Previously Deported Twice

Published

on

...

* By

This was the 3rd time the monster entered the U.S. illegally. It’s too easy for these criminal scum to get in! We need to seal up the border, tight!

Via U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Release Date: August 15, 2019

“TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Border Patrol agents near Naco arrested a previously deported sex offender Wednesday.

Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents from the Brian A. Terry Station arrested 37-year-old Carlos Blancas-Rojas for being illegally present in the United States. During processing, agents conducting records checks discovered the Mexican national had been convicted by the state of Washington of Rape of a Child, a felony, in 2008.

Records checks further revealed Blancas-Rojas has an active warrant in Washington and that he has twice been removed from the United States, his second deportation following his felony conviction.

While held in federal custody, Blancas-Rojas awaits prosecution for the illegal re-entry of a previously deported aggravated felon.

All persons apprehended by the Border Patrol undergo criminal history checks using biometrics to ensure illegal aliens with criminal histories are positively identified.”

Here’s a video montage of our first section of border wall being constructed with a tribute to Angel Parents. Help us build more by donating below!

DONATE NOW TO BUILD THE WALL WITH BRIAN KOLFAGE, CLICK BELOW:

CHECK DONATIONS:
We Build the Wall, Inc.
PO Box 131567 Houston, Texas 77219-1567

The official wall fundraiser & construction site is at www.webuildthewall.us
Follow Brian Kolfage on Twitter HERE
Like his verified Facebook page HERE

Contacts:
Jennifer Lawrence – Communications Director
media@webuildthewall.us
Cell: 845-800-1552

Facebook Comments

Continue Reading

Large Group Assaults Guard With Rocks On Border, Border Patrol Fires Pepper Balls

Published

on

...

* By

This happened right in front of the border wall we just built. While I was documenting the construction of our wall, I spoke with a Border Patrol agent who said he had been “rocked” over 20 times in 11 years, and that most agents have rocks thrown at them at least once during their careers. This attack comes on the heels of four Mexican nationals firing automatic weapons at a Border Patrol marine unit.

The El Paso Times is reporting:

“U.S. Border Patrol agents fired pepper ball shots at swimmers in the Rio Grande during a confrontation Sunday evening on the El Paso-Juárez border.

A Border Patrol spokesman said agents fired the non-lethal rounds after a security guard from the International Boundary and Water Commission was allegedly assaulted by a group throwing rocks.

Juárez families regularly use that portion of the Rio Grande for recreational swimming in summers when the river is flowing with water.

The confrontation occurred as dozens of Mexican families with children were playing in the river across the border near the old Asarco site in El Paso.

A cellphone video showed at least a half-dozen Border Patrol agents on U.S. soil confronting more than a dozen swimmers in the water on the U.S. edge of the river.

The video was shared on the YouTube page of La Polaka, a tabloid news website.”

El Mexicano newspaper reported that a confrontation began when a guard told swimmers not to be crossing the middle of the river to the U.S. side. Swimmers were trying to dive from the U.S. side into the river.

Agents responded to a report by a guard for the International Boundary and Water Commission saying that he had been assaulted, Border Patrol spokesman Agent Ramiro Cordero said.

The six-minute video shows Border Patrol SUVs rushing to the scene and agents standing on land while the swimmers remain in the water. The tall metal border fence is visible a few yards behind the agents.

A Border Patrol statement said that agents encountered a large group throwing rocks and refusing to leave. When the group refused to stop, agents fired pepper balls to disperse them.

El Mexicano reported that the Border Patrol fired “rubber bullets” but the Border Patrol said that agents actually fired pepper balls.

The Border Patrol is equipped with modified paintball guns, named the Pepperball Launching Systems, that shoot balls containing pepper-spray powder.

“When they (projectiles) hit the floor or a person, it opens up and release the power and it irritates you and you leave or stop coming forward,” Cordero said.

It is unknown how many people may have been struck by pepper ball pellets, Cordero said. There were no reported injuries.

The video was filmed from a distance on the Mexico side and it is difficult to see if it filmed agents firing or anyone throwing rocks.

The swimmers dispersed and returned to the Mexican side, which is near the Casa de Adobe museum along the riverbank where Texas, Mexico and New Mexico meet.

The riverbank on that portion of the Rio Grande on the U.S. side is blocked off by tall, metal border fencing but the Mexico side include parkland accessible to the public.”

Here’s a short video of our wall being constructed.

Here's a montage of a few of the videos I shot of Airman Brian Kolfage's border wall being constructed. You can also view it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHHmJBq-awI. More to come… 🇺🇸

Posted by Jeff Rainforth on Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Story compiled by Jeff Rainforth for We Build the Wall, Inc.

DONATE NOW TO BUILD THE WALL WITH BRIAN KOLFAGE, CLICK BELOW:

CHECK DONATIONS:
We Build the Wall, Inc.
PO Box 131567 Houston, Texas 77219-1567

The official wall fundraiser & construction site is at www.webuildthewall.us
Follow Brian Kolfage on Twitter HERE
Like his verified Facebook page HERE

Contacts:
Jennifer Lawrence – Communications Director
media@webuildthewall.us
Cell: 845-800-1552

Facebook Comments

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019 We Build the Wall News. All rights reserved. We Build the Wall Inc. is a Florida non-profit tax-exempt advocacy organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions or gifts to We Build the Wall are not tax deductible for IRS purposes. Not paid for at taxpayer expense.

Send this to a friend