We Build the Wall, a private billionaire-backed rightwing extremist organization, secretly and illegally built a half-mile stretch of Trump’s racist wall over Memorial Day weekend in the small town of Sunland Park, located in the southeast corner of New Mexico, about nine miles from El Paso, Texas. The group is staking out 10 more sites to erect similar sections of border wall on privately owned land.
The organization’s leadership and membership are a who’s who of the U.S. homegrown neo-fascist menace. We Build the Wall’s advisory board includes former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his racist anti-immigrant and voter suppression laws.
Others on the leadership team include Erik Prince, billionaire founder of the infamous Blackwater mercanary army (now known as Academi), as well as white supremacist and anti-immigrant former Colorado Congressperson Tom Tancredo, just to name a few.
The group was founded by Brian Kolfage, a former operator of right-wing conspiracy peddling websites, with the purpose of crowdfunding a part of the Trump administration’s proposed border wall. It raised over $23 million on its GoFundMe Page with donations coming from extremely wealthy bigots.
In January, Kolfage wrote in a tweet, “So how many billionaires will it take for us to get the wall completed? When we release our plan, you will find out that answer!” Last week the group sought to raise more money by organizing a three-day fundraising telethon.
The wall was built on private land owned by American Eagle Brick Factory without the knowledge of the town’s 14,000 residents. The early stages of the wall were primarily built clandestinely in this predominantly Latino town. Steve Bannon stated last month that the construction was done in secrecy to avoid protest and legal challenges.
On May 17, the City issued a cease and desist order temporarily stalling wall construction after it was determined that the project lacked the necessary permits and violated city ordinances. Yet the halt only lasted 36 hours before the city rushed through the necessary approvals for the organization. This half-mile section of wall is now complete and is intended to drive migrant children and adults into steeper and more treacherous nearby parts of the border.
The site of the wall is the same area where an armed extremist group, known as United Constitutional Patriots recently made headlines for terrorizing and violently detaining hundreds of migrants legally seeking political asylum in April.
Kolfage was aided by UCP in selecting the site of the wall, shedding light on the neo-fascist vortex of billionaires and middle class anti-immigrant gangs. Jeff Allen, co-owner of the private property that part of the wall was built on, gave UCP permission to stay on his property.
Sunland, like many other U.S. border towns, is poverty-stricken with a 38 percent poverty rate, making it one of the poorest towns in the country. In a report by NPR, one Sunland resident Isabel Marshall said, “A lot of money is spent on the wall, there’s other things, like schools and hospitals, that benefit us more.”
We Build the Wall are now referring to the border wall as “The People’s Wall” with stunning irony considering that the wall was funded and supported by a coterie of wealthy right-wing politicians and property owners, all while the working class residents of Sunland Park are outraged.
At a City Council meeting in June, angry residents demanded accountability from city officials for allowing the organization to illegally build the wall. We Build the Wall remains an unwelcome and unwanted presence in this small town.