Federal authorities have arrested Steve Bannon and three other co-conspirators. According to the indictment, Bannon and others stole donations from We Build the Wall, a crowdfunded campaign to build a wall along America’s border with Mexico. Despite Bannon allegedly stealing $1 million from the group, it did build walls in parts of Texas and New Mexico.
We Build the Wall says it has built sections of wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico and Mission, Texas. When reached by phone, a public information official for Mission, Texas did not immediately know anything about Bannon’s wall, but one in Sunland Park was very familiar.
“There is a wall there. It was built on the property of the American Eagle Brick company. They would have any information about the structure itself,” the city clerk of Sunland Park said on the phone this morning. An hour later, the city government sent over a series of permits and plans filed to the city last year.
Construction of We Build the Wall’s private fence began in Sunland Park 2019. The initial permit called for a 64,800 square foot fence worth roughly $5.8 million that would cut across land that belonged to the American Eagle Brick Company. Also on the land is Mount Cristo Rey, a site of Catholic pilgrimage. The permit filed with the city describes “property enhancement and fencing.” It was designed by Greg Gentsch, an engineer with Fisher Industries, which actually constructed the wall.
According to local news and Sunland Park residents, We Build the Wall attempted to build a portion of the wall over Memorial Day Weekend in 2019 and the City rushed to stop it. When it did, founder Brian Kolfage took to Twitter to say he was being attacked by the city of Sunland Park. The mayor started getting death threats.
The plans for the wall itself are unremarkable, but detail a hastily thrown together project. In a document meant to detail the effect of wind on chain link fencing, the document lists its reference as “wikipedia” with no further explanation. A map of the proposed fence shows a barrier of more than 2,000 feet long punctuated by a complex of lights and cameras every 150 ft.
After the wall was finished, despite the protests of local citizens and governments, it cut off access to a dam and a historic monument. “Somehow, with a quick influx of money, things can get built and questions can get asked after the fact,” local restaurant owner Robert Ardovino told The El Paso times in 2019. “Environmentally, ecologically, it’s sad to see another permanent scar placed on Mount Cristo Rey. It’s a natural, beautiful mountain and unfortunately what’s happening on that side of it is more and more destruction.”