A border wall is rising along a near mile-long stretch between Texas and New Mexico thanks to a GoFundMe fundraiser that’s using private donations and private land.
The group “We Build the Wall” announced construction over the weekend near El Paso, Texas, after raising more than $22.7 million of a $1 billion goal.
“It’s just under one mile long,” Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, CEO of the organization, told the Daily Mail on Monday. “The wall starts at the Rio Grande River [Texas] and goes up Mount Cristo Rey [New Mexico] where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it was impossible to build.”
Video posted on YouTube shows construction teams erecting the massive metal barricades over freshly leveled land.
The mission is led in part by former White House Chief Strategist and former Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon, as well as former Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach.
The area was selected after local authorities described it as the most dangerous part of the U.S.-Mexico border, “where the cartels and asylum-seekers are coming in,” Bannon recently said, according to Yahoo! News.
The group purchased the land and quickly began construction on Friday as they expected local residents were “gonna freak out,” he said.
“We had to catch them by surprise,” he said.
Kolfage had faced scrutiny in the months leading up to the wall’s construction due to a lack of progress, leading some to call it a scam.
With donations steadily streaming in, Kobach, speaking with Fox News, said they plan to continue building.
“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,” he said.
El Paso’s elected officials have made their opposition to any such wall known for some time.
Last fall, they advocated against one proposed wall near El Paso’s downtown in a resolution that dubbed it “a symbol of hate to our friends, allies, trading partners, and families in Mexico.” Their signed resolution argued that such a wall would only increase the federal deficit and divert critical resources needed elsewhere.
“It’s deeply disturbing when outsiders, like Kris Kobach and Steve Bannon, come in and use our community and people as a backdrop to further their racist agenda.”
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D), who represents El Paso’s 16th Congressional District, lambasted this weekend’s construction efforts as “disturbing.”
“It’s deeply disturbing when outsiders, like Kris Kobach and Steve Bannon, come in and use our community and people as a backdrop to further their racist agenda,” she told The El Paso Times in a statement. “It’s even more disturbing that a business in our community is furthering this xenophobic narrative. While this wall may be necessary fuel for the president’s political campaign, it will not prevent people from seeking asylum.”
The U.S.-Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles long. Of that, roughly 1,279 miles are unfenced, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Advocates behind “We Build the Wall” aim to complete something that Trump has struggled to start himself and originally said Mexico would pay for.
A federal judge in California last week issued a temporary injunction that blocks the use of Defense Department funds to build a border wall, which has been one of Trump’s top campaign promises.
The $1 billion eyed for the wall’s construction was not appropriated by Congress, the judge ruled. Trump has said he will appeal the decision.
This story has been updated with background on El Paso leaders’ stance to a border wall.