Rumors of We Build the Wall’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, you can go to its GoFundMe page yourself, right now, and see that the group has collected a little over $20 million.
This is despite a sustained media barrage claiming GoFundMe was going belly-up and refunding every donation — more than 300,000 — that had been sent into the wall-building effort. It’s also despite a sustained online pounding on founder Brian Kolfage’s past and character from the likes of BuzzFeed — the people largely responsible for clickbait listicles — and the Daily Beast.
Brian Kolfage is the Air Force veteran who, during a deployment to Iraq in 2004, was hit by an enemy rocket and lost three of his limbs. Since his close brush with death and rehabilitation, Kolfage has become a husband and father of two, a frequent guest on cable TV news, and an outspoken advocate for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Gary Sinise’s foundation built Kolfage’s family a smart home to accommodate his war injuries. He has become a motivational speaker and a well-known advocate for injured veterans.
Congress has repeatedly voted to fund a border wall for more than a decade, only to not allocate actual money for it after the headlines faded. President Trump ran for the White House on building a wall, setting aside its funding source, and won. Congress has not cooperated — less so once the Democrats recaptured the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
In December 2018, frustrated by seeing Washington dither and the government partially shut down while the wall went unbuilt, Kolfage set up a GoFundMe page to crowdsource the wall. Money poured in. So did criticism from the blue checkmark mob and the classless Jimmy Kimmel.
But Kolfage remains undaunted. Having missed the goal of raising $1 billion for the wall on GoFundMe, Kolfage has set up a non-profit 501(c)(4) called We Build the Wall Inc. He has also given donors the option of having their donations refunded, but Kolfage says so far 94 percent have opted to keep their money with the wall. He says he is not taking a salary or even a cent from the funds raised.
This past week he led two online townhalls to discuss the project. Steve Bannon, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, Kris Kobach, and several other longtime border security advocates helped headline the forums. Even the town halls had their drama, in the form of group room rates at a hotel.
Next up, is actually identifying contractors for wall building and the land to build it on. He tells Fox News that the land is proving to be less problematic than might be expected.
“We are going to be building this wall. They are not leasing us the land, they are not selling us the land, they are just saying we can build it there for no cost,” he continued. “We are going to go into their property and build mile by mile.”
The sight of wall sections actually being built is likely to be a powerful magnet for more donations — and more criticism.
The bottom line for Kolfage is that it’s not a question of if President Trump’s border wall gets built — it’s when. Between his grassroots effort and Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the border, he may be right.