An aerial picture shows the Rio Grande river and border wall fencing at the US-Mexico border separating El Paso and the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, in El Paso, Texas.
Last year, Fifty-one-year-old Tommy Fisher finished building a private three-mile wall, costing $30 million in Rio Grande, Texas, separating US and Mexico. Now he’s searching for someone to buy it, reported Bloomberg.
And that’s looking to be a tough sell, especially since US President Joe Biden stopped the building of Trump’s wall when he was elected, though Biden’s homeland security chief said in April the administration might try to fill “gaps” in the current wall. Just last month, the US president returned $2.2 billion to the military that had been allocated to building a wall under the Trump administration, Insider reported.
According to Bloomberg, Fisher’s wall, which runs along the Rio Grande that separates the US and Mexico, comprises “15,000 18-foot-tall steel bollards” spaced five inches apart.
Fisher told Bloomberg he started thinking about building the wall as a personal project when Trump got elected. A Republican donor and frequent Fox news contributor, Fisher told the outlet: “I was like, ‘This would be really fun. This would be a project that would be remembered, like the Hoover Dam.'”
In 2019, We Build The Wall – an organization dedicated to crowdsourcing funds to private citizens’ efforts to build a border wall – paid Fisher’s North Dakota-based company Fisher Industries $6.9 million to build a half-mile section of wall in New Mexico, reported Bloomberg.
We Build the Wall was founded by Brian Kolfage, a US veteran, and co-led by former White House strategist Steve Bannon. In late 2019, Fisher started building a second stretch after receiving an additional $1.5 million. He later parted ways with the organization, and continued building the wall; its cost eventually ballooned to $30 million – 20 times the original estimate.
In 2019, Kolfage, Bannon, and two others were indicted for defrauding donors of $25 million in connection with the organization, according to court papers seen by Insider. Bannon was given a pre-trial pardon by former US President Donald Trump just before he left office. Kolfage later faced additional tax fraud charges for filing false tax returns.
Fisher’s work with We Build the Wall helped him score more than $2 billion in contracts from the Trump administration – despite, as The Washington Post reported, portions of his builds being plagued by design problems and poor construction. In addition to structural issues, Fisher’s project has been the subject of pushback from environment groups and neighbors who oppose the wall, reported NPR. They said it was built too close to the river, and could worsen flooding.
Last year, the National Butterfly Center, a non-profit conservation organization, sued WBTW and Fisher Industries, saying the wall may disrupt the rivers flow and cause flooding on both sides, AP reported. Meanwhile, the US International Boundary and Water Commission also filed a lawsuit, saying the water diverted from the wall’s construction could shift border lines between US and Mexico.
Despite both lawsuits, Fisher continued to sink money into his wall project, he told Bloomberg, because he believed he was building the “Lamborghini” of walls and someone would buy it. He’s hoping that as border control remains a problem, the federal government will be moved to take over his private wall.
In May this year, more than 180,000 undocumented migrants were encountered by US authorities at the southwest border, according to data from the US Customs and Border protection – the highest in 20 years. More than 50,000 came in through the Rio Grande Valley, where Fisher’s three-mile wall is.